A Collier County jury recently awarded $5.1 million the family of a 91-year-old woman killed in a Marco Island car accident caused by a man reportedly traveling 77 mph in a 30 mph zone before running a stop sign in November 2013.
The civil judgment comes almost exactly one year after the conclusion of the criminal case, in which the defendant, also from Marco Island, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. This was just one year less than the maximum 15 years he faced on the charge of vehicular manslaughter. Defendant had three prior DUI arrests and two tickets for excessive speeding. He was not charged with DUI manslaughter in this instance, prosecutors say, because only one official at the scene detected signs of impairment that might warrant a blood draw. Without that evidence, proving defendant was drunk at the time of the fatal crash was nearly impossible. Nonetheless, the criminal court judge apparently wasn’t swayed by his pleas for leniency that pointed out his participation in half a dozen charitable golf outings annually. His attorney asked for a maximum of three years. The judge gave him nearly five times that.
At the civil trial, plaintiffs attorneys presented evidence that defendant had consumed five shots of liquor and three beers in the hours just before the crash. A bartender at the establishment defendant had earlier patronized testified at trial. Continue reading ›