Archive for Thursday, September 4, 2008

District attorney awaiting reports in fatal accidents

The Douglas County District Attorney says he hasn't received reports in two fatal accidents this summer.

September 4, 2008


Criminal charges haven't been considered against drivers involved in two fatal accidents this summer in Douglas County because law enforcement agencies haven't formally submitted the cases to prosecutors for review, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said.

Branson said his office is waiting for complete paperwork in the June 28 wreck that caused the death of a sheriff's deputy who was riding his bicycle near Eudora and the July 15 death of a motorcyclist who collided with a semitruck at the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.

"It is the responsibility of the law enforcement agency to either submit the full case to our office : or set a meeting with our office to review a case that may be questionable," Branson said.

In the first crash, a Kansas Highway Patrol report said 20-year-old Kyle William Van Meter was distracted by a cell phone and other electronic devices, when the car he was driving struck and killed Douglas County sheriff's Lt. David K. Dillon, 44, who was riding his bicycle in the 1900 block of North 1400 Road.

The semitruck driver involved in the fatal motorcycle crash, Daniel L. Arnold, 52, of Texas, made an improper left turn, failed to yield the right of way, and disregarded traffic signs, signals or markings, according to a Lawrence Police accident report. Douglas Puckett, 43, of Portage, Ind., was killed.

"Neither of these cases have been formally submitted to our office," Branson said. "There is no action for us to take until they have been.

The fatal bicycle accident, which happened in the jurisdiction of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, was worked by the KHP since it involved the death of a sheriff's deputy. Capt. Steve Zeller, commander for the KHP troop which investigated the accident, said the accident report had been submitted to Branson's office, but the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was acting as the liaison in the case. Sheriff's spokeswoman Lt. Kari Wempe said her agency has prepared reports for the DA, but was waiting on the driver's toxicology reports from the state. Calls to the sheriff's office about where the toxicology testing was being conducted weren't returned late Thursday.

In the fatal motorcycle accident, Lawrence Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Cory said his agency's providing the reports to the DA's office for review.

"Sometimes these reviews take time," Cory said.


daman 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm confused. Did Branson receive the reports or not? Sounds like a breakdown in communication between the DA's office and two different law enforcement agencies. Let's get it straight people and get on the ball, Dillion and the other victim deserve better.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm guessing that Mr. Branson is just waiting for what you all have to say about the matter and he'll make his decision by the end of the day...

somebodynew 9 years, 6 months ago

Plus, if I remember correctly, there were some issues about the driver's license. It was either suspended or he didn't have the proper class - something like that.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 6 months ago

This seems like a very long time. Wonder if they are waiting on some test results from the state.

skinny 9 years, 6 months ago

Heck, we're still waiting on charges from the fatal K-State cattracker bus accident at 15th and Iowa almost two years go!! Or did the LJW decide not to print the DA's decision?

domino 9 years, 6 months ago

It's a tough thing, either way. If law enforcement takes "too long" getting everything to the DA's office, the public says they are not doing their jobs. Sometimes testings can take a long time - KBI lab runs very slow on many things and that is not a criticism - just a fact! I'm sure they just want to have all their ducks in a row to make sure the cases are prosecuted and all the evidence is correct. Nothing is more irritating than to have a case thrown out because of a technicality. On the other hand, if someone gets off for a crime, people say that law enforcement didn't do their job correctly. It is often a no win situation. Granted, some things seem to take an unreasonable amount of time, but sometimes it can't be helped. I just hope justice is served in both of these cases.

Bob Forer 9 years, 6 months ago

As a former prosecutor, I have dealt with local, county, and state law enforcement officials in the prosecution of several first and second degree murder cases. While a few reports trickle in four to six weeks after the incident, most reports--sufficient for a determination of charges--were on my desk within a day or two after commission of the alleged offense.Mr. Branson, what gives? While I understand these are difficult cases to determine charges, haven't you had enough time? The public is the waiting, and we're getting a little impaitent.

Bob Forer 9 years, 6 months ago

"what criminal charges could there be in that accident?"Reckless driving, and/or vehicular homicide in the bus driver allowing apparently intoxicated indiviudals to ride on top of the bus while being operated on a public thoroughfare. Not suggesting whether the charges would stick. But those charges would certainly be in the realm of possiblities.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 6 months ago

skinnywhat criminal charges could there be in that accident?

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 6 months ago

TheSychophant I thought about those but I'm not sure they apply... thanks for the comment...

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