Birmingham manslaughter defense lawyers followed closely as the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a former police officer accused of killing a minister with his vehicle.
The DUI manslaughter case involved a 12-year police veteran who reportedly was traveling at speeds in excess of 120 miles-per-hour when he collided with the pastor, who was a father of one.
The crash happened on the interstate, near the Arkadelphia exit.
The former Birmingham Police Department officer, who was off-duty at the time, reportedly measured a blood alcohol content that was somewhere in the range of .14 and .17 — about twice the legal alcohol limit of .08.
Still, the officer and his attorney maintained that the crash occurred after the pastor’s vehicle veered into the officer’s lane.
The facts seem to show that after the two cars hit one another, they both struck the concrete barrier. The pastor’s vehicle went airborne, and he was thrown from the vehicle before it landed back on the ground. The police officer’s car slid some 800 feet.
The officer had reportedly been drinking whiskey with a police colleague at a strip club. The minister was on his way home from choir practice.
The 37-year-old officer, who resigned from the force following his November 2009 arrest, was convicted last spring of reckless manslaughter, which is found in Alabama Criminal Code Section 13A-6-3 (1). It falls into the second most-serious group of crimes, and falls in the same category of severity as assault, kidnapping and most sex crimes. Punishment ranges from a minimum two years to a maximum of 20 years (unless you use a deadly weapon, in which case the minimum is 10 years).
Prosecutors in this case had pushed for a conviction of reckless murder, which would have carried a minimum of 10 years, but would likely have been much more. However, the jury decided to convict him of the lesser charge.
He was sentenced last summer to 12 years behind bars – a sentence neither side felt was fair. The victim’s family wanted more, while the former police officer’s supports felt it was too harsh.
Either way, the conviction stands, following the conclusion of the police officer’s appeal. The officer had remained free on bond pending his appeal. He will now have to report to prison to serve his sentence.
It’s estimated that approximately 40,000 people are arrested for DUI in Alabama every year. Most of those cases aren’t quite this serious or involve such extreme juxtaposition between the defendant and the alleged victim.
No matter what the circumstances of your case, though, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Birmingham DUI attorney as soon as possible following your arrest. Simply pleading guilty is never your best option.