There’s a new trial date set for June 6, 2012
The driver of a heavy commercial dump truck piled into a group of motorcyclists who were stopped at a red light; reportedly he was distracted.
Phoenix Public Safety Manager Jack Harris described the scene “I have never seen such a horrific accident involving so many motorcycles,”
The crash 3/25/2010 at Carefree Highway and 27th way, Phoenix, initially killed 3, a fourth died a few days later. Several were seriously injured, including a Phoenix Fire Captain in critical condition.
Today the Arizona Republic is reporting in a 3/27/2010 story that the driver has a string of infractions, many of which sound like technical/equipment-related, and several of them were dismissed. However, the driver has an outstanding citation for failure to control about two weeks ago in Scottsdale, related to an (apparently minor) collision. These cases pop up on a search of the Arizona Supreme Court case lookup. But strangely, the reporter seems to be unaware of additional actions in Maricopa Justice Court, including one just dated just a couple of days before the huge crash. (search on Michael Jakscht)
The investigation is still ongoing, but with no hints of impairment the likely outcome, barring a surprise, will be a traffic ticket and no criminal charges.
Driver in fatal Phoenix motorcycle crash booked on 4 manslaughter counts, 4/06/2010 & Bond for driver in fatal motorcycle crash set at $1 million, 4/07/2010, AZ Republic.
Phoenix police arrested Jakscht on suspicion of driving under the influence of methamphetamine. He was booked on four counts of manslaughter, five counts of aggravated assault and seven counts of endangerment. Apparently the suspect’s circumstances forced a quick arrest, and resulted in a relatively large bond.
The former article had lots of interesting snippets about how or why this investigation proceeded amazingly quickly. It has been only about two weeks since the crash (emphasis added):
Toxicology results take up to six weeks in most criminal investigations, according to police. Jakscht’s blood sample, which police drew after he passed field sobriety tests, was made a priority.
“In this case, to get the result, so he doesn’t drive more or drive impaired, it was the department’s decision to make it a priority,” Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said.
…The Carefree Highway wreck came two weeks after Jakscht was cited by Scottsdale police for failing to control his speed to avoid a collision at Shea Boulevard and Hayden Road. The police accident report detailed how Jakscht, driving a pickup truck in his name, struck a stopped vehicle.
The trial ended and went to the jury on friday Aug 12, 2011.
The prosecution maintained the driver was impaired; though it seems like they are depending on tox results that showed the driver tested positive for methamphetamines. This is a big deal in any sort of “drug” accusation: “Unlike with alcohol use, there is no statutory blood-content level for methamphetamine that constitutes impairment. So the determination has to be based on the testimony of the police officer who administered the roadside sobriety test and observed the defendant’s demeanor” — azcentral.com. I’m sure there were hours and hours of dueling expert testimony on the blood tests.
The defense maintains the defendant was not impaired at the time, and that the positive result is due to diet pills. They also blame the crash on brake failure.
The contrast between drug impairment vs. alcohol impairment via blood tests is stark — it is quite possible/likely that many many drug-impaired drivers involved in crashes go undetected, or even when detected it’s so much more difficult to prove that prosecutors become unwilling to even go there.
The trial ended with a hung jury (9-3 in favor of acquittal) on Aug 18. Prosecutors must now decide whether to peruse a new trial. Interesting comments by lawyer Vlad Gagic that ring true , though perhaps “NO signs or symptoms of impairment” is too strong, to my uninformed ears:
“My belief is that the jury did not convict Mr. Jaskcht because there were no signs or symptoms of impairment. Thus, even if a driver has an illegal drug metabolite in your system and he is guilty of a illegal drug DUI, if the driver is not impaired then he cannot be guilty of manslaughter, endangerment, or manslaughter. In the parlance of legal procedure, the defense did something very smart: they presented their own alternative version of events…”