Very often, when Tennessee prosecutors level vehicular homicide charges against individuals, evidence of alcohol can become an aggravating factor. But even if alcohol impairment isn't suspected, a conviction for vehicular homicide may be sought.
Regardless of whether driving under the influence is considered an element of an alleged crime, the charge is serious and deserves to be addressed with a vigorous criminal defense. The rights of the defendant, presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, deserve such protection.
The prosecution's evidence in connection with a 2012 crash that left a 42-year-old woman dead clearly was not sufficient for a jury in the vehicular homicide case of a Knoxville trucker. He had been accused of reckless homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment and the panel deadlocked on all the charges.
According to police, the trucker was driving one of two tractor-trailer trucks that collided on Interstate 40 on the day in question. The defendant's truck ended up on the car driven by the woman. The prosecution alleged that the defendant had been driving recklessly and that his actions warranted a verdict of guilty. It noted that the trucker had admitted that his driving had resulted in an "emergency situation" that ended in the accident.
But the defense argued that the claims made by the prosecution didn't elevate the matter to criminal status. Rather, the driver's attorney suggested the case should have been handled as a civil matter.
The jury deliberated on the case for more than three hours and sought specific guidance from the court on what might constitute reckless driving. In the end, they could not agree on a verdict.
With the mistrial, prosecutors have the right to retry the case. They have not said whether they will or not.
Source: WATE.com, "Mistrial declared in case of Knoxville truck driver charged in deadly crash," Stephanie Beeken, Sept. 24, 2013