Recently, in June of 2009 an appellate court in Kentucky sustained the lower trial court’s October 2007 rulings in a criminal case that sent a man to prison for 15 years. The Supreme Court denied reviewing it.
In Mills v. Commonwealth, 2009 WL 1705605 (Ky.App.), the following events transpired. On September 3, 2006, it was alleged that Mr. Mills, while driving drunk, was involved in a car accident that killed another man and then drove away. The accident happened around 10:45pm. A key witness testified that he saw Mr. Mills earlier that evening staggering and carrying 3 beers. Another witness says that she saw Mr. Mills around 2am (3-4 hours after the accident) and that Mr. Mills was not drunk and did not smell of alcohol. Also, there was testimony that at the accident scene it did appear Mr. Mills was staggering around, but the witness could not testify if it was as a result of being drunk or hurt. Another witness who pulled Mr. Mills out of the car testified that he did not appear to be drunk, nor did he smell of alcohol. And then, a doctor at the hospital that saw Mr. Mills 2 days after the accident did testify that he smelled of alcohol. Mr. Mills did admit that he had been drinking that day, 2 days after the accident. He also admitted to drinking on the day of the accident, but not on the night of, and that the only reason he fled the scene was because he was shaken up when he heard the sirens. Mr. Mills was charged with murder, fleeing the scene of an accident, assault, and DUI.
At trial, the state introduced evidence of 5 photographs of the scene of the accident. Two of them showed the damage to the car the victim was in, with the victim still in it, though covered up. The trial court and appellate court found no reversible error in showing these to the jury. They showed points of impact and were even used to help contradict Mr. Mills’ story that the driver of the other vehicle crossed the double yellow lines. The prosecution is permitted to prove its case by competent evidence of its own choosing, and the defendant may not stipulate away the parts of the case that he does not want the jury to see. The general rule is that relevant pictures are not rendered inadmissible simply because they are gruesome and the crime is heinous. Id.
Mr. Mills also tried to argue that there was no evidence that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident expect for one person’s testimony. The court denied his motion stating, the credibility and weight to be given to the testimony, these types of determinations are within the exclusive providence of the jury, and, on that ground, the trial court decided correctly. On appeal, the court aid, it will not usurp the prerogative of a jury and decide as a matter of law which witnesses are worthy of belief and which are not. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville car accident matter, please call and speak to a Louisville car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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