What is sometimes the right legal decision in a case is not always the most popular. Especially for the family of the alleged victim who was killed in a hit-and-run crash.
On March 22, 2013, a University of Miami Law School employee was driving on Brickell when she claimed that she thought somebody had thrown a bottle at her car. Police say that the bottle was actually the body of a 52 year-old woman who was killed when she was struck with the law school employee’s car.
The law school employee went home and did not call 911. She also tried to have repairs done to the damaged windshield.
Prosecutors dismissed the case because they could not rebut the defense claim that the defendant believed that a bottle had struck her windshield, not a human.
Cellphone records indicate that the defendant may have been texting at the time of the crash.
Just because somebody dies during a car crash doesn’t automatically mean that somebody can be held criminally liable. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred.
It is a crime to knowingly leave the scene of an accident where property damage, injury, or death has occurred. If you do not know or have no reason to know that a person or piece of property was struck, the law cannot punish you for leaving the scene.
In this case, prosecutors assessed the strength of the evidence and determined that they could not prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While this may anger some, it is not the job of the State Attorney’s Office to appease the masses. They must do justice. Sometimes that means dismissing a case when the evidence is insufficient to obtain a conviction.
Eric Matheny is a hit-and-run lawyer serving Miami and Broward.