A driver was arrested on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter (see homicide categories) and 3 aggravated assaults. What makes this unusual is the absence of suspicion of DUI. We shall see what the prosecutor does with it. This is a tantalizing comment: “data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at ‘an excessive speed,’ “. Data recorder? We (the public) often hear that these sorts of crashes are tragedies but not crimes — because the prosecutor claims that they can’t prove anything.
The claim of 65 in a 40mph zone is probably key because in Arizona excessive speed is defined as more than 20 over, §28-701.02
To successfully prosecute a manslaughter charge, it must be shown that the defendent’s conduct was reckless:
” ‘Recklessly’ means… that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk … of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation” §13-105(9)(c)
Note that the Cal Holman fatality was also a left-turn on the part of the victim.
Driver arrested in deadly car crash
Carol Sowers / The Arizona Republic / Sept. 5, 2007 12:00 AM
Scottsdale police on Tuesday arrested the driver of a pickup truck that collided July 19 with a car, killing five family members of a Tempe family and injuring three others.
Robert L. Myers, 25, of Chandler, was speeding when he ran a red light and crashed into the family’s 1994 Cadillac DeVille at McDowell and Granite Reef roads, police said.
The crash closed the busy intersection for nearly six hours.
Myers was arrested at his home on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter and three of aggravated assault.
He was booked on felony counts because of his “reckless speed” and running a red light, said Sgt. Mark Clark, a Scottsdale police spokesman.
Investigators determined that Myers, who received minor injuries, was traveling at 65 mph in a 40-mph zone.
“I think he was expecting the arrest,” said Lt. Frank O’Halloran of the police department’s traffic section.
Among the dead were three children, ages 4, 9 and 11. Initially, investigators said there was no evidence that Myers, or Guadalupe Pedraza, 26, the Cadillac driver, were speeding or under the influence of any illegal substance.
But data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at “an excessive speed,” Clark said.
His case will be turned over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.
Myers was on his way to meet his mother when he raced his Chevrolet Avalanche westbound on McDowell and crashed into the Cadillac.
The Cadillac was turning north onto Granite Reef.
The five dead were identified as: Noelia Robolledo-Sanchez, 36; her husband, Antonio Pedraza-Olivares, 30; their son Antonio Pedraza-Robolledo, 4; and their nieces, Jennifer Ramirez-Pedraza, 9, and Mayra Ramirez-Pedraza, 11.
Besides Pedraza, the driver, the other two who were injured were Noelia and Antonio’s daughters, Abigail, 9, and Adriana, 12… Pedraza was issued a civil seat-belt citation and another for not having a child-safety seat in the car.
The Criminal Case
The grand jury indicted 5X manslaughter, plus 3X aggravated assault.
The sentence plea deal is remarkable, an apparent tribute to the prowess of his attorney, Larry Kazan. The sentence for guilty plea to 5X neg hom (as part of the deal, the agg assault was dismissed; and all were “non-dangerous”):
- 1 year incarceration in county, with work release every day (7 days / week) from 6am to 9pm
- 4 years probation
- Defendant’s driving privileges shall be revoked (for how long? how does he get to work every day?)
- Restitution – $451,835.05 payable $510.00 per month. (that would work out to 886 months, or almost 74 years of payments assuming 0% interest. What is up with that?)
Laurie Roberts wrote a scathing column on the sentence
…The crash was devastating. So devastating that a little girl didn’t speak for nearly a year. She’s paralyzed but the family hasn’t yet told her that she’ll never walk again. Maybe it’s because she’s already lost so much . . . her mother, her father, her brother, her cousins.
…And here comes the predictable part. “It was a car accident with a tragic outcome.”
…The Chandler man sped past another westbound car, nearly sideswiping it. The driver of that car saw the light changing up ahead at Granite Reef Road and told his wife, “He is going to blow that light.” Tragically, he was right. Myers ran the red light and broadsided a 1994 Cadillac DeVille as it was turning left onto Granite Reef Road.
Scottsdale police estimate Myers was doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone. They say his car skidded 38 feet before taking out an entire family.
Then he did the smartest thing he could do. He hired Larry Kazan, the Valley’s go-to attorney for bad drivers – the ones who can afford him, that is.
In court records, Kazan says his experts estimate that Myers was going only 10 mph over the limit, which is no big deal because everybody does it. Instead, he pointed a finger at the victim, Guadalupe Pedraza, who didn’t have a driver’s license or enough seat belts for everyone in her overloaded car.
“Certainly, the light may have been red at the time Robert entered the intersection, but it was a close call one way or another,” Kazan wrote in a memo to the judge. “Ms. Pedraza had the opportunity to avoid the collision had she obeyed the right-of-way rules of the road, which require her to yield to all traffic within the intersection or so closely approaching as to constitute an immediate hazard. Not having an Arizona driver’s license probably didn’t help her in this regard as she was probably unaware of the required rules of the road.”
As opposed to, say, the guy going 65 mph and blowing through a red light?
Myers pleaded guilty in February to five counts of negligent homicide. “I feel I should receive probation,” he said in a letter to the judge, “because I am a law-abiding citizen.”
…What we don’t know is how Robert Myers managed to avoid prison. Kazan is good, but two children lost their parents and brother that day and two parents lost their daughters. One child will never again walk. But Myers will – and sooner than you think… Last week, Judge Connie Contes sentenced him to a year in jail and four years’ probation and ordered him to pay $450,000 in restitution. She also ordered that he be released from jail seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for “work release.”