The North Carolina Court of Appeals has overturned several charges against a 46-year-old Charlotte woman accused of causing a man's death after driving while intoxicated. The court ordered a new trial for the woman.
She is accused of striking a man with her car after allegedly drinking four beers and two mixed drinks at a bar in Mecklenburg County near the Catawba River bridge. The victim, 40, had been driving his tractor-trailer on Wilkinson Boulevard when he noticed a Ford Expedition swerving in front of him. The driver of the Expedition had suffered a stroke or seizure, and the man rushed to help. At this point, the defendant allegedly struck the open door of the Expedition, striking the victim as well as two passengers of the vehicle.
The man died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Following the crash, the woman allegedly phoned a friend and asked if she could park her visibly damaged vehicle in his driveway. She then met with another friend and spent the night at her home before turning herself in to the police early the next morning.
At the woman's trial for second-degree murder, the jury deliberated for four hours before finding the woman guilty. She was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years and four months and a maximum of 34 years and five months in prison by Judge Richard Boner.
The appellate court overturned her charges of second-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and reckless driving. The court overturned the sentences because evidence about the woman's previous convictions for DWI was admitted and because an expert based the woman's intoxication analysis on an odor test the morning after the crash.
During her trial, the woman told the victim's family that he was a hero and that she wished she would have died in his place.
Source: Gaston Gazette "Appellate court overturns DWI murder conviction," Diane Turbyfill, 18 November 2010