Archive for Monday, February 4, 2008

Trial starts in hit-and-run death of KU student

February 4, 2008


The defense attorney for a Lawrence man accused of running over and killing a Kansas University student in September 2006 is asking jurors to find his client guilty of a lesser charge.

Joshua Walton, 25, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the drunken driving crash that killed Ryan Kanost, 22.

During opening arguments this afternoon in Douglas County District Court, Walton's attorney Tom Bath admitted that Walton was responsible for Kanost's death, but he said prosecutors have sought too serious a charge. He recommended misdemeanor vehicular homicide.

"We believe you'll find he's guilty of vehicular homicide, resulting in the death of Ryan Kanost in a grossly negligent manner," Bath said. "Witnesses tell you he was speeding and struck pedestrian. It's that crime he's violating. We believe evidence will not be proven he committed the crime of involuntary manslaughter."

But Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson told jurors that witnesses would detail how much alcohol Walton drank throughout that night. Branson said a friend tried to give Walton a ride home from a bar, but he declined.

Kanost was struck by a northbound car while crossing Kentucky Street at 13th Street with friends in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2006. Branson said Walton drove off and met friends, telling them he believed he struck something but didn't know what it was.

Walton reported to the Lawrence police station the next day after his friends saw news coverage that someone had been struck and killed with a car in the Oread Neighborhood.

"The defendant made a choice to drive that night, and because he made that choice, someone is dead," Branson said.

Prosecutors charge Walton with involuntary manslaughter, or unintentionally killing Kanost while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A conviction carries a sentence from 38 months to 172 months in prison. He also faces a misdemeanor count for leaving the scene of an accident.

Bath is seeking a conviction of misdemeanor vehicular homicide, which is the unintentional killing of someone while driving in a manner that creates unreasonable risk or injury. The maximum penalty of a conviction is 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Walton is free one $25,000 bond.


Bill Chapman 10 years, 4 months ago

No excuse for being stupid . . . If he didn't want to end up in jail, he should have known better than to drive drunk!

Hoots 10 years, 4 months ago

It cost $7 to take a taxi downtown or anywherer else in town.. Whenever I'm going to go have a WooHoo time Jayhawk Taxi is involved. It takes off the pressure of getting your car home. What's the cost of a couple of drinks vs. what the outcome might be?

I've known a couple of people who got DUI'd and who wants to go through that. You can take 200 round trips in a taxi for what one DUI might cost. In this case the taxi would have been priceless.

flyboy1 10 years, 4 months ago

It is time as a society that we demand that people that choose to drink and drive are punished to the full extent of the law. It is a choice to drink and drive. I don't see arms being twisted to make that choice. Too many people die from the choice to drink and drive.

nobody1793 10 years, 4 months ago

The most important thing is to decide how you're getting home before you start drinking, because otherwise you're in no condition to make a good decision. It is tempting to think you can make it just a few blocks, or that you're not that bad...but one person is gone forever and another has ruined his future, not to mention all the family and friends involved. I don't think the PSAs or MADD are effective at changing anyone's behavior, but I hope a least some people take this to heart and just admit they're not invincible. Please.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 4 months ago

I think he should be glad that the penalty of the crime he is charged with is as low as it is.

In my opinion he should go away for a couple of decades.

kidmystic 10 years, 4 months ago

so what was his B/AL? how much had he had to drink and where? you all seem so intent of giving this kid the chair, you must already know a lot more facts than the reporters or the jury?! the defense wouldn't be seeking a VH charge if there was proof he was drunk. they didn't even see this kid until the next day and his "freinds" are saying he was driving around drunk and refusing rides? i'm not saying he's innocent here, but you people are setting at home, making up your mind to send a kid to prison when you know NOTHING about the case. the fact that this guy turned himself in the next day (who does that?) makes me want to wait until the verdict is in before throwing stones. not saying we should go easy on drunk driving, NO WAY, but in this case, drunk is nothing but hearsay. let the facts get played out, and THEN throw the book if necessary. to the person who is friends with the deceased, i've been there, but pure emotion is not justice or vendication. let the courts do their job. branson is a good DA, and will be a great AG someday : ) let him do his job, or Mr. Bath do his. we're going to hear a lot about this case in the near future, let justice work it out.

kidmystic 10 years, 4 months ago

like i said, been there, and branson is a great DA.

Hoots 10 years, 4 months ago

What his lawyer ask for is a mute point. An attorney can ask for his/her client to be crowned King of England if they want in court. It doesn't mean they will get it.

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