Tag Archives: circumstantial evidence

Owner of Red Alfa found guilty of killing ped on sidewalk

TalfaRomeoHitAndRunPhoenixhe owner of the red Alfa Romeo convertible involved in the killing of a pedestrian on a Phoenix sidewalk in 2013 was found guilty of negligent homicide and leaving the scene of a fatality caused by the defendant. I have no idea what the defense was; but at the conclusion of the twelve-day trial, the jury also found an aggravating factor of dangerousness. Details at another-ped-gets-whacked-on-phoenix-sidewalk
Continue reading Owner of Red Alfa found guilty of killing ped on sidewalk

Driver charged w/hit-and-run in Chandler ped fatality

photo: MSCO
Hit-and-run suspect Wanda House. photo: MSCO

[plead deal January 2017]

Driver Wanda Snow House has been charged with hit-and-run in connection with the death of a pedestrian. According to police she “was driving in a bicycle lane on Dobson Road near West Canyon Way on Jan. 14 2015 when she hit a pedestrian, identified as Frances Johnston”. Continue reading Driver charged w/hit-and-run in Chandler ped fatality

Driver Convicted: Another ped gets whacked on Phoenix SIDEWALK

[Jan 2016: case finally resolved, defendant/driver convicted and sentenced, see below.] Woman walking on the sidewalk in broad daylight killed by a hit-and-runner, Sunday March 3, 2013. I say ‘another’ because it was only about a week ago another unforunate soul was hit just standin-on-the-corner; fortunately she wasn’t killed.  Seriously, how often does this happen? Continue reading Driver Convicted: Another ped gets whacked on Phoenix SIDEWALK

Hit and Run and good-old-fashioned-policework

[Final (?) Update 1/9/2015; defendant pleaded guilty to one count of 28-1201 endangerment, a Class 6 (the most minor) felony. Notably, the charge that was dropped, hit-and-run, is a much more serious class, class 3, and also would have triggered a mandatory 5-year license . The sentence is 3 years probation. One wonders how endangerment can possibly be “non-dangerous” but it’s right there in the deal. Sweet deal for the defendant, though it was a very long and drawn out — the collision he ran from occurred almost a year and a half ago — and presumably very expensive process ]

[Updates 8/19/2014, interesting case minute involving a “Motion to Suppress (involving claims the defendant’s cell records were improperly obtained)… and a Motion for Dessureault Hearing (involving the defendant’s photo used at a lineup”; that’s some fancy lawyering. Both motions were denied. Trial is now set for 10/27/2014.]

[As of July, trial set for 8/18/2014 (didn’t happen)]

[Update. Case minute 1/15/2014  Comp Pretrial Conf/Trial orders says trial expected to be 4 days, which seems short. Interestingly “Status of Case: A plea offer was not made”. Trial date is presently 3/12/2014 (which obviously never happened)]

This a remarkable story, kudos to the Detective Ted Yoder, and the Glendale PD.

You can follow the criminal case against the suspect, John Kovacich at superiorcourt.maricopa.gov CR2013-446736, View all case minutes for CR2013446736 here.. The defense attorney is listed as Lauwrence Kazan, who seems to be noted for defending high-profile vehicle-crime cases; and the county attorney is Tiffany Brady. Laurie Roberts refers to Kazan as “the Valley’s go-to attorney for bad drivers – the ones who can afford him, that is”.

The suspect was charged, based on 1) owning a vehicle that matches witness descriptions and debris left behind at the scene where Daniel Frampton was seriously injured July 30, 2013 ( asdm incident 2765265), and 2) owning a cell phone which was making a call around the same time, in the same area as the collision; witnesses reported they thought the driver was using a phone at the time. So, at least part of this case seems to rely on circumstantial evidence. The suspect has plead not guilty.

Note that even when the big break in the case came, it required much diligence on the part of Glendale PD; search warrants and so forth. An LEO once told me “if the owner of the (suspected hit and run) vehicle won’t talk to us, there’s nothing we can do”. This is obviously incorrect; it’s more a matter of will, and resources on the part of law enforcement.

Mesa Police seek driver of white SUV in fatal hit-and-run

[Update: McIver sentenced in August 2014 after pleading guilty last month; short story is 5 years prison for manslaughter plus 4 years probation. All CR2014000974 case minutes (sentencing minute is dated 8/22/2104). Also see Bar Receipts used to Indict… , which is interesting in that the case was proven with circumstantial evidence of drunkeness; though it was obviously not stron enough to seek 2nd degree murder charges, which is routine for drunk drivers who negligently kill someone. Thus the plea deal to manslaughter. Also MCAO issued a press release, sortof unusual.]

[ Update: SUSPECT ARRESTED 8/20/2013 abc15.com “Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato said 36-year-old Matthew S. McIver is being booked on manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident” ]

azcentral.com updated 8/14/2013 ~ 1PM Mesa police identified the victim of a fatal hit-and-run collision as Richard B. Welck, 68, who was riding a tricycle when he was apparently struck from behind by an SUV on Tuesday night. Welck was riding east in the 8000 block of East Ray Road at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday when he was struck from behind by the SUV, which also was headed east, according to Mesa police. Sgt. Tony Landato, a police spokesman, said evidence at the scene suggests that the SUV is possibly a white 2003-2005 Saturn Vue. Landato said police made an “exhaustive’’ check of the area but were unable to locate the SUV. Police are asking the public for help in identifying the vehicle and the driver. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (480) 644-2211.

myfoxphoenix.com: more info at this news story. The victim was a 68 year old male. He was riding an adult tricycle blue in color. 
IF YOU COME ACROSS THE SUV, call the Mesa Police at (480) 644-2211 or by calling Silent Witness at (480) WITNESS, you can remain anonymous

azcentral.com: Police say a bicyclist in his mid-60s was killed Tuesday night (8/13/2013) in a hit-and-run collision in Mesa. Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato said police are looking for a white SUV with front-end damage, possibly a Saturn Vue, in connection with the incident near Sossoman and Ray roads…

I’m adding the circumstantial tag, this is a bit of a twist, it’s about how they got him to plead guilty to manslaughter, using video surveillance of bars he had been at, and receipts. rather than direct proof (e.g. field sobriety tests, blood test, etc):

Craig Penrod, a veteran East Valley attorney who represents defendants accused of driving under the influence, said there have been past attempts by police to reconstruct the actions of defendants but he has not heard of police using an estimated blood alcohol content level in the past.

“You would need a lot of details to reconstruct a BAC without any sort of chemical test,’’ Penrod said. “It sounds pretty far-fetched to me.’’

“I have never heard of them putting together a BAC based on circumstantial evidence,’’ he said.

Phoenix police, however, were able to obtain enough evidence to arrest two defendants who also are accused of fleeing the scene after they struck and killed victims. Witnesses, a surveillance video obtained from a liquor store, cell phone records and physical evidence eventually linked Jesus Cabrera Molina to the May 19 death of Officer Daryl Raetz, who was processing a DUI case at 51st and Cambridge avenues when he was run down. Cabrera also was accused of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatality.

Christopher Chevalier was accused of the same charges, plus tampering with evidence, in the March 5 death of Anna Blaze, who was struck by an Alfa Romeo while she walked on a sidewalk with a friend at Northern Avenue and 11th Street.

Phoenix police officer dies in fatal hit-and-run

vehicleRaetzHitAndRunFatality[Update: driver sentenced] Although it seems obvious that police work is dangerous because there are bad guys with guns trying to kill them; roughly the same number of  policeman killed in the line of duty die as the result of a traffic collision than by being shot (or stabbed)….

May 19, 2013 ~ 3:30a, Phoenix police officer Daryl Raetz was killed while “processing a DUI suspect near 51st and Cambridge avenues when he was struck by a green Ford Expedition, which then fled the scene”. azcentral.com. The story doesn’t give much detail, I would assume from what was presented he was a pedestrian, which is consistent with the picture of the SUV that struck Raetz, which police released later. Continue reading Phoenix police officer dies in fatal hit-and-run

Casa Grande PD nabs hit and run suspect


[Mar 2014 — plea / plea agreement dated 2/24/2014  The plea stipulates no jail; Wuertz pleas guilty to endangerment, a very low level felony (it even automatically conditionally converts to a misdemeanor). More importantly there is no hit-and-run conviction. That charge, besides being a serious felony, would have resulted in a 5 to 10 year driver license revocation — though the deal does state that “pursuant to 28-3304 the defendant’s license shall be revoked”. Though I’m not sure for how long. Section (A)3 states license must be revoked for commission of any felony w/motor vehicle.

I’m not sure when sentencing is but it’s pretty much a done deal]

[UPDATE early Feb 2014: CR-201300574 has a case minute 2/5/2014 so case is still trundling along. (Pinal county superior court minutes don’t show up under caselookup)]

On April 3, 2013, bicyclist Edward Brennan, 57, was struck from behind by SUV whose driver fled the scene. Brennan was injured, seriously from the sounds of it. [trivalleycentral.com] The vehicle’s mirror was left on the scene and was identified as a 2003-2006 Ford Expedition. On a hunch that the driver might use the same route around the same time, police staked out the area and arrested Thomas Cole Wuertz, 22, suspicion of leaving the scene of an injury accident.  [trivalleycentral.com]

Case lookup reveals a number of traffic charges against the youthful suspect over the past few years; including a reckless driving charge in 2010 in Florence-Coolidge Justice court TR-20100451, to which he plead guilty.

Hooray for the Casa Grande Police Department for following up and using good, old-fashioned police work to locate the suspect vehicle. Continue reading Casa Grande PD nabs hit and run suspect