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Archive for Wednesday, September 8, 1999

JAIL TERM, PROBATION ORDERED IN FATALITY

September 8, 1999

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A Shawnee man who blacked out while driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and caused the death of a friend last summer will spend 30 days in jail.

After Landon McKinnis, 22, serves the jail term, he'll be on probation for a year, Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild ruled Tuesday morning.

Fairchild found McKinnis guilty of vehicular homicide July 14, and later denied his attorney's request to have the verdict overturned.

Larry Williams died in the Aug. 4, 1998, accident on Kansas Highway 10 near the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. Defense attorney David Berkowitz had argued that Williams, a passenger in McKinnis' car, probably wouldn't have died if he had been wearing his seat belt. But Fairchild ruled McKinnis "had been driving in an erratic manner, tailgating vehicles, swerving in and out of traffic, exceeding the speed limit and slowing to a speed below that maintained by the flow of traffic."

Fairchild also noted that McKinnis had consumed both alcohol and marijuana before and during the drive from the Kansas City area to Lawrence.

Williams, 23, of Overland Park, and a friend of McKinnis', died in the crash after McKinnis blacked out. Steven Clark, the front-seat passenger and Williams' brother, grabbed the steering wheel but overcompensated. The vehicle flipped and rolled.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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