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Blame shift used in Baton Rouge homicide defendant's defense

Evidence is the key to a strong criminal defense when a Baton Rouge resident has been charged with a serious crime. Many people associate evidence with what investigators find at the scene of an alleged crime, such as the wreckage of a traffic accident. In fact, evidence to support or dismantle criminal charges can come from a variety of sources.

A 31-year-old Palmetto man has been charged with vehicular homicide for killing five people, including three children, in a 2011 traffic crash. The defendant was not the only driver blamed for the accident. A Baton Rouge woman was convicted in August on negligent homicide charges related to the same accident.

Police said the accident was the result of road rage. The defendant and convicted driver were in separate vehicles on Interstate 10. Witnesses said the woman SUV driver tried to block the defendant's pickup truck from passing. When the truck driver moved to the shoulder of the road, the two vehicles made contact.

The defendant's attorney argued that the fatality that followed never would have happened had the SUV not "clipped" the truck. The truck spun out of control and hit a third vehicle, killing the Prairieville driver, a teen co-worker and the driver's three children, ages 3 to 11.

Authorities said the truck driver had been drinking and driving. The defendant's blood alcohol content level was 0.10 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08. A conviction could send the Palmetto man to prison for as little as three years or as long as 30 years, for each of the five counts. The SUV driver received a two-year prison sentence.

Defense attorneys challenge arrest and chemical test procedures used by police, toxicology test results, and crash reconstruction evidence when making their case. An independent investigation, including expert testimony, may be required to obtain a reduction or dismissal of charges.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Defense lawyer: Leger not at fault in crash that killed five" Joe Gyan, Jr., Nov. 13, 2013

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