In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider her convictions for manslaughter, aggravated assault, criminal damage, and aggravated DUI. On appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the convictions, and, thus, that her guilty verdict should be vacated. After reviewing the record, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving one afternoon with her young daughter in the backseat. At the time, the defendant’s daughter was not in a booster seat but was buckled in only by the car’s lap belt. As she drove, the defendant started swerving the car and veering off the side of the road. Eventually, she crossed the double line into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another car.
Unfortunately, the defendant’s daughter suffered severe injuries and later died of brain trauma. The second car’s driver was also injured, and he was treated for a fracture to his leg. The driver’s car was also completely totaled.
Upon searching the defendant’s car, officers found prescription bottles, medical marijuana, and pipes in the defendant’s possession. A subsequent analysis of the defendant’s blood showed that she had several heavy depressant-like drugs in her system – drugs that would certainly impair her ability to drive. The defendant was criminally charged, and her case went to trial.
The jury in the defendant’s trial found her guilty after hearing evidence from a forensic scientist, several pedestrians that saw the defendant driving erratically, and a group of first responders. After being found guilty, the defendant appealed the decision, arguing that there was not enough evidence to support the verdict.
Reviewing the case, the higher court looked at whether the State did present substantial evidence to support a conviction. The evidence, said the court, was enough for the State to meet its burden: the State brought in evidence of the defendant’s blood test, the labels on her prescription bottles warning her of the drugs’ adverse effects, and the disclaimer on her medical marijuana card warning her not to drive while using the drug. The evidence showed that the defendant did not apply her breaks at the necessary time and that she did not put her daughter in a booster seat, as she should have done for a child of that age.
Because the court decided the evidence presented was enough to support a guilty verdict, the defendant’s appeal was denied. The jury’s original decision remained in place.
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