Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona DUI case involving a defendant who was alleged to have caused a serious accident while under the influence of methamphetamine. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court failed to exclude a statement used against him at trial. However, the court refrained from weighing in on whether the statement was admissible, finding instead that, even if it was improperly admitted, and error it caused was harmless. The case illustrates the importance of raising and preserving all valid arguments at trial.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant entered an intersection without stopping at a stop sign and while traveling over the posted speed limit. As the defendant’s vehicle entered the intersection, it struck an SUV that had the right-of-way. There were three passengers in the defendant’s vehicle. One died, and two others were seriously injured. The driver and two passengers in the SUV were also injured.
The defendant, who was also injured in the accident, was taken to the hospital. While at the hospital, a detective hand-cuffed the defendant to the hospital bed and unsuccessfully attempted to interview him. Later, as the detective was out of view but within earshot, he heard the defendant tell a nurse that he had taken methamphetamine earlier in the day.