Kandas arrested for negligent homicide

Six wrecks in the past few years? Who is this guy’s insurance company?

This horrific case is notable for a couple of reasons: first, it is highly unusual for the county attorney to go for any homicide charges when there is no DUI. And second thing to note is the wheels of justice turn very slowly, just over a year to file charges (crash occured June 16, 2006)!

From the Arizona Republic article:

…DPS investigators found Kandas could have a neurological disorder that caused him to black out or lose control in as many as six accidents in the past several years, records show.

Kandas told police he was taking a drug called Zonegran, which is used to prevent epileptic seizures, to “focus his mind.”

Then in mid-October 2007 defense made motions in an attempt to send the case back to the grand jury. Kandas’ bail was also reduced, and he is out w/bracelet. “Kandas’ lawyers portray their client as a responsible driver who sought treatment for epilepsy in May 2005 and continued seeing doctors through January 2006, records show. Documents suggest he was concerned about his medical condition because he had blacked out in as many as six accidents in the last few years”.

In mid-November 2007, a judge ordered the case back to a grand jury so they can hear testimony that the defendant was being treated. Can somebody tell me what are the rules for driving w/siezures? and what, if any, are the reporting requirements of either patients and doctors to the MVD? Laurie Robertson wrote a column a weekor so before this latest ruling. In it she made some pretty harsh statements aimed at police investigators and the county attorney…saying something to the effect of because of mis-handling now we will never have justice. I don’t see it that way — so now it goes back to the grand jury, and presumably justice can be done.

As of April 7, 2008, Kandas’ bond be was eliminated so he may return to Turkey to renew his visa, which is expiring. “In November, [Superior Court Judge Jeanne] Garcia returned Kandas’ June negligent-homicide indictment to another jury for a second look. But because prosecutors have not sought a second indictment in the last four and one-half months, Garcia says she has no authority to hold Kandas”. However, the prosecutor’s office claims new information continues to come to light and it still under investigation.

Man charged in death of Chandler family

Michael Ferraresi and Carol Sowers
The Arizona Republic, Jun. 20, 2007 02:43 PM

The man who slammed into a Chandler family’s minivan on a Loop 101 offramp a year ago was arrested Wednesday and now faces four felony counts of negligent homicide.

Haluk Kandas, 30, could face up to 32 years in prison if convicted on all counts stemming from the June 16, 2006 crash on the northbound exit ramp of Loop 101 at Raintree Drive.

The fiery collision killed the Chandler family – Christopher Walls, 36, Leah Walls, 34, and the couple’s children, Miller, 6, and Mallory, 4 – who were stopped at a red light on their way to Desert Life Christian Church in the Scottsdale Airpark.

Kandas walked away uninjured after slamming his 2006 Chrysler Pacifica into the family’s 2000 Mazda MPV minivan, which burst into flames.

Investigators estimated that Kandas was driving between 39 and 54 mph at the moment of collision.

A Maricopa County grand jury handed up an indictment against Kandas after the Arizona Department of Public Safety completed its yearlong investigation into the accident.

“We don’t consider this tragedy to be an accident,” Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Wednesday after the charges were announced.

For nearly one year, relatives and friends wondered about closure on the case. An entire family died in an instant, yet no one was held accountable.

“It’s not going to bring them back, but it’s a little bit of closure,” said Leah Walls’ father, Walter Miller, who was reached at a Christian missionary rally in Tennessee.

“I’d almost given up,” Miller said.

Miller, 65, who lives in Alabama, said he and other family members were frustrated with the length of the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the wreck and the time it took the County Attorney’s Office to recommend criminal charges.

DPS investigators found Kandas could have a neurological disorder that caused him to black out or lose control in as many as six accidents in the past several years, records show.

Kandas told police he was taking a drug called Zonegran, which is used to prevent epileptic seizures, to “focus his mind.”

“Given his history, it’s not just an accident,” Miller said. “If he had six accidents in four years, he’s an accident waiting to happen another time.”

Detectives arrested Kandas early Wednesday at his Ahwatukee apartment. He was taken into custody without incident.

During his jail booking, officials said Kandas admitted he was in the United States illegally from Turkey. It was unclear Wednesday how his status could affect legal proceedings. [note: the next day it was reported that he did in fact have a valid work visa]

Kandas was not seriously injured in last year’s accident.

Crash charges may get 2nd look

Carol Sowers, The Arizona Republic, Oct. 16, 2007 12:00 AM
Maricopa County prosecutors presented “misleading testimony” and withheld evidence that the driver who wiped out a Chandler family last year suffered an epileptic seizure, causing the crash, court records say.

The driver, Haluk Kandas, was indicted on four counts of negligent homicide.

Edward Novak, John Sandweg and Hector Diaz, the Phoenix attorneys who represent Kandas, have asked a judge to send the case back to the grand jury.
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They want grand jurors to hear omitted evidence they said shows that – despite months of treatment for epilepsy – Kandas suffered an “unexpected seizure” on June 16, 2006, which caused him to crash into the Wall family’s van, killing them instantly.

The lawyers declined to comment. They are scheduled to argue their case Nov. 7 before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jeanne Garcia.

The lawyers’ battle to return the emotionally charged case to the grand jury is the latest episode in the tragic tale of the death of the Wall family: parents Christopher, 36, and Leah, 34, and son Miller, 6, and daughter Mallory, 4.

Kandas, who lives in Ahwatukee, was indicted in September 2006 on four counts of negligent homicide. If convicted, he could face as many as 32 years in prison. No trial date has been set.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will not comment on the defense motion, and had not filed a response to the court as of Monday.

The family’s fiery death stung the community.

Surviving family members became increasingly frustrated over the lengthy investigation that led to Kandas’ arrest on June 20, a year and four days after the deadly crash.

Meanwhile, Kandas was recently released from a Maricopa County Jail after Judge Garcia reduced his bail to $50,000, from $180,000, despite prosecutors’ objections.

Kandas is wearing a monitoring bracelet.

Kandas’ lawyers portray their client as a responsible driver who sought treatment for epilepsy in May 2005 and continued seeing doctors through January 2006, records show.

Documents suggest he was concerned about his medical condition because he had blacked out in as many as six accidents in the last few years.

Dr. Barry Hendin, Kandas’ Phoenix neurologist, prescribed Zonegran, an anti-seizure medicine.

Kandas filled the $138 prescription each month, and was taking the medicine on the day of the crash, according to court records.

Hendin wrote medical records that Kandas’ seizures were under control. The doctor is expected to testify that on the day of the accident, Kandas had an “unexpected seizure” that caused the crash.

Defense lawyers argue in their motion that grand jurors didn’t hear that Kandas was being treated for seizures.

Instead, the prosecutor presented a “fictitious version of the facts,” and portrayed Kandas as a “rogue driver,” who never “touched his brakes,” when his car “violently swerved on the highway, and struck a curb at a high rate of speed,” the motion says.

Because there was no evidence Kandas was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, some grand jurors were puzzled that an “unimpaired driver would behave in such a manner,” according to court documents.

“Those questions could have been answered if the prosecutor had not withheld the logical explanation about Kandas’ medical condition,” the lawyers wrote.

Thomas G. Reyes, who investigated vehicular crimes for the Phoenix police for 18 years, has been hired by the defense to reconstruct the accident.

In an interview, Reyes said when Kandas made no attempt to apply the brakes, it was clear the accident was the result of a “medical condition, not negligence.”

The Wall family’s Mazda van was stopped at a red light on the northbound ramp of Raintree Drive and Loop 101 in Scottsdale when it was struck by Kandas’ Chrysler, traveling at between 39 mph and 54 mph, investigators said.

The family was less than 2 miles from the Desert Life Church, where Christopher Wall played drums in the band and Leah Wall hung her art in the lobby of the Sunday school

7 thoughts on “Kandas arrested for negligent homicide”

  1. Hey Nicole, just because “you” lost your baby to a reckless idiot that wasn’t paying attention does not mean that is the case here. Did you even read the story? You cannot judge this guy by what another person did to YOUR kid.

  2. Seden, you’re all wrong. I was a witness and was in traffic when the idiot flew through the intersection. I hope he faces life in prison!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I knew Chris and Leah from Montgomery, before the move out west and before Miller and Mallory came along. I loved this couple and their dream to have children “one day.”

    I will never forget them or what their family must have gone through in that blinding moment. My prayer is that they were taken instantly, in the blink of an eye. My heart cannot bear it if they suffered.

    Kandas had a 24 year old responsibility to acknowlege his medical condition as hazardous, especially with five prior accidents involving blacking out while taking a medication to control seizures (another indicator: please do not drive). A responsible choice we all have to make. Am I safe to drive a car? Kadans’ would have been, find another mode of safe trasportation for everone involved. I don’t this person; however, medically, he had a responsibility to be honest with himself (based on his history) and honest with authorities.

    This family is lost forever. These precious people – I wish you could have become friends with this family – then you would understand the loss felt and the responsibility Kadan had.

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