No Murder Conviction for Doctor in Fatal Crash

in Homicide, on

The trial of the former doctor we discussed in our February 24th post ended Wednesday when the judge sentenced the man to three years in prison. The jury did not buy the prosecution’s argument that the man had committed second-degree murder. Instead, they convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, felony death by motor vehicle and driving with impaired. He was driving drunk when he sped through town and crashed into the car of a 20-year-old woman, killing her.

The trial lasted eight days. The jury deliberated for almost 12 hours.

Sentencing wasn’t as straightforward as the victim’s family may have liked. In North Carolina, a person cannot be sentenced for both felony death by motor vehicle and involuntary manslaughter. The judge opted for the former, because it carries more prison time. A second-degree murder conviction would have meant 9 ½ years in prison.

The jury was not in full agreement from the beginning. Two held out on the murder charge, saying they were not convinced that the defendant got into his car intending to kill someone. The panel did agree unanimously on the DWI charge early in their deliberations. They then agreed on the felony death charge. Struggling with the murder charge, the group settled on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Jurors said after the sentencing that they were determined to come to consensus. They wanted to spare the victim’s family another trial.

One juror spoke to the press about her frustrations with the civil process. She said it was hard not being allowed to ask questions and not hearing some evidence that had been excluded.

The defendant did not opt to make a statement at the sentencing.

Source: Raleigh News Observer, “Raleigh doctor gets 3 years but no murder conviction,” Anne Blythe, 03/02/11