Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2010

23-year-old Arkansas man faces involuntary manslaughter, other charges in connection with fatal accident on U.S. 24-59

Investigators evaluate the scene of a fatality accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.

Investigators evaluate the scene of a fatality accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.

November 24, 2010, 10:36 a.m. Updated November 24, 2010, 5:56 p.m.

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Zachary Harrison

Zachary Harrison

Accident involving stolen vehicle on U.S. 59

Investigators evaluate the scene of an accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of the Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Enlarge video

Skid marks lead to a smashed car on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Douglas County Sheriff's officials said at least one person died in the accident, which involved a stolen vehicle.

Skid marks lead to a smashed car on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Douglas County Sheriff's officials said at least one person died in the accident, which involved a stolen vehicle.

This blue Toyota Tundra was stolen from a USA Today delivery driver on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The truck was then involved in a fatality crash on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence that same morning.

This blue Toyota Tundra was stolen from a USA Today delivery driver on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The truck was then involved in a fatality crash on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence that same morning.

A damaged barrier sits on the sidewalk behind Wescoe Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The barrier was damaged when a USA Today delivery truck was stolen about 3:40 a.m. The vehicle ultimately ended up being involved in a deadly accident on U.S. Highway 24/59 north of Lawrence.

A damaged barrier sits on the sidewalk behind Wescoe Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The barrier was damaged when a USA Today delivery truck was stolen about 3:40 a.m. The vehicle ultimately ended up being involved in a deadly accident on U.S. Highway 24/59 north of Lawrence.

E. 1450 Road north of N. 1900 Road

Douglas County prosecutors on Wednesday filed several charges, including involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, against a 23-year-old man in connection with a fatality accident Tuesday north of Lawrence.

Zachary Tyler Harrison, 23, who is stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, said little in court Wednesday afternoon, other than “yes sir” or “no sir” as a judge set his bond at $175,000 for the nine charges he faces.

He was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the 3:40 a.m. crash on U.S. Highway 24-59.

Douglas County Sheriff’s officers and prosecutors accused Harrison of stealing a pickup truck being used by a newspaper carrier earlier Tuesday on the Kansas University campus. Authorities allege Harrison eventually struck a car from behind around 3:40 a.m. and killed a 21-year-old Lincoln, Neb., man, and injured three others.

Sheriff’s officers on Wednesday identified Cameron Freeman as the man who died in the accident. Family members said the four Nebraska men were headed back to Lincoln after attending a concert in Lawrence.

Family reaction

The sheriff’s office identified the three other 21-year-old Lincoln, Neb., men in the car with Freeman as Casey Kettler, Michael Larsen and Fernando Pages.

Kettler, the driver, and Larsen, the front-seat passenger, were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and later released. Pages, a back-seat passenger, was taken to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., where his condition was unknown Wednesday. Freeman, another back-seat passenger, died at KU Hospital, said Sgt. Steve Lewis, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Sheriff’s officers said the Nebraska men were traveling north at 3:40 a.m. Tuesday on U.S. Highway 24-59 when their Mazda 626 was rear-ended by a Toyota Tundra that prosecutors say was the truck that Harrison stole. The truck did not stop after the accident.

Tim Kettler, Casey Kettler’s father, said the four Nebraska men had been friends since high school and were in Lawrence for a concert. He said they were headed back to Lincoln so they could make it to work on Tuesday.

“Casey said they were traveling less than the speed limit. He looked in his mirror and saw the lights, and then they were hit,” he said. “It was an out-of-the-blue kind of thing.”

Kettler said his son and Larsen made it back to Lincoln after they were released from the hospital. He said it appeared Pages would recover from his injuries.

Freeman was a 2007 graduate of Lincoln East High School. Dennis Mann, the associate principal, described him as a fun kid and talented musician who was well-liked by his teachers. He said he kept a close circle of friends.

“We’ll miss him,” Mann said. “The world was a better place when he was in it.”

Charges

The charges Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office filed Wednesday against Harrison revealed a few more details about the incident.

Sheriff’s officers have said the pickup truck was stolen from the KU campus from a newspaper carrier delivering several papers as part of the Newspaper Readership Program. Sheriff’s and Kansas University officers on Tuesday said Harrison was not being pursued by police just before the crash on the highway.

“The state does believe the defendant poses an extreme risk of safety to the public,” said David Melton, a chief assistant district attorney.

Melton also said he considered Harrison to be a flight risk because his only connection to the Lawrence area is a brother he was here visiting.

Harrison, an airman first class in the U.S. Air Force, has been stationed since 2009 at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

Harrison faces charges of:

• Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for Freeman’s death.

• Three counts of aggravated battery for the injuries to the other three men.

• Leaving the scene of a fatality accident.

• Failing to report a fatality accident to police.

• Following a vehicle too closely.

• Criminal deprivation of property, or “joyriding” in a vehicle he took without permission.

• Failing to report damage to property for striking a gate or object on the KU campus.

Judge pro-tem James George agreed to set Harrison’s bond at $175,000.

Melton said prosecutors don’t believe Harrison has any past criminal history. If that’s true, he faces a maximum of three years and seven months in prison on the involuntary manslaughter count if convicted of the most severe charge.

George appointed Jason Billam as Harrison’s attorney and scheduled his next hearing for 2 p.m. Monday.

Comments

blindrabbit 4 years, 7 months ago

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mikeylike1 4 years, 7 months ago

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 7 months ago

How many years can you get for killing someone while committing a felony?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 7 months ago

He isn't charged with felony murder and I don't think he can be. The police said he wasn't fleeing from them at the time of the crash, so he wasn't committing a crime related to the theft of the truck. The theft of the truck was complete.

Sigmund 4 years, 7 months ago

I think he can and should be charged under "felony murder." 21-3401. Murder in the first degree. Murder in the first degree is the killing of a human being committed: (a) Intentionally and with premeditation; or (b) in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony as defined in K.S.A. 21-3436 and amendments thereto. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteFile.do?number=/21-3401.html

21-3436. Inherently dangerous felony; definition. (a) Any of the following felonies shall be deemed an inherently dangerous felony whether or not such felony is so distinct from the homicide alleged to be a violation of subsection (b) of K.S.A. 21-3401, and amendments thereto, as not to be an ingredient of the homicide alleged to be a violation of subsection (b) of K.S.A. 21-3401, and amendments thereto: ... (8) felony theft under subsection (a) or (c) of K.S.A. 21-3701, and amendments thereto; http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=11800

21-3701. Theft. (a) Theft is any of the following acts done with intent to deprive the owner permanently of the possession, use or benefit of the owner's property: (1) Obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over property; (2) obtaining by deception control over property; (3) obtaining by threat control over property; or (4) obtaining control over stolen property knowing the property to have been stolen by another. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=11877

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 7 months ago

There's already a case on felony murder based on theft like this. It's State v. Kenny Kunelis (sp?). There's a companion case as well, but I can't think of the name of the co-defendant. Based on that case, no, I don't think this guy can be charged with felony murder because he was not in the commission of the theft or fleeing from it. That's why I was careful to note that the police said he was not being pursued by squad cars at the time of the accident. At some point, the theft is complete. This was the point of Kunellis, that he is not in the course of "committing" a crime simply because he's driving a stolen vehicle. At that point, it's possession of stolen property. One does not continue to commit theft for every moment that one retains possession of the item after stealing it.

Sigmund 4 years, 7 months ago

Understood, and courts can and do change their minds. He can always be charged and any verdict appealed. He was "obtaining or exerting unauthorized control" so let him argue he wasn't still in the commission and he believed the "theft was completed." Let the DA work to get the law of completion expanded to include these circumstances. If nothing else it is something to include in any plea. If you remember the cases please send me a email, you got me curious at looking at the factors the court used in determining the "theft was completed."

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 7 months ago

The Kunelis case was all about that "exerting unauthorized control" theory of theft. The Supreme Court clearly held that theory did not apply in a theft situation like this. That language refers to the sort of situation where one has lawful access to the stolen item or money for one purpose but uses it in an unauthorized way. Kunelis was from around 2004 or so. I want to say the co-d's name was Rogers. I just don't 'think the district court could allow a charge to proceed under that theory because the court is bound to follow the Supreme Court's ruling. Also, he's not even charged with theft; he's charged with criminal deprivation of property. It appears that maybe the DA has some reason he didn't intend to keep the truck, but was just joyriding. I don't think criminal deprivation isn't an inherently dangerous felony that could lea to a felony murder charge.

Jimo 4 years, 7 months ago

Sigmund, I thank you for your clever exposition on this obscure topic. But no court is going to - EXPAND - the felony murder rule. This is an ancient doctrine we inherited from England and if it didn't exist we would - NOT - invent it.

The strange and dangerous nature of this rule is that it takes the required intent from one crime and allows it to be transferred for the required (but absent) intent to murder. The theory is that the commission of some crimes is so clearly predictive of potential death (in an era where death was as common as pie) that the prosecution (at the time, the Crown) shouldn't be burdened with having to waste time proving that the defendant must have foreseen the overwhelming potential for death and, without care or caution, was indifferent to the possibility.

Here, the "committing" of the crime was complete. I see nothing in this story that would show that the crime was ongoing rather than accomplished and that any foreseeable potential for death was extinguished. In short, this tragedy was not foreseeable.

Scruggsy 4 years, 7 months ago

I was picturing in my mind more of a meth head looking POS. Looks more like a D-bag POS however. That smirk will be wiped off his face soon, if not already.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 7 months ago

The accused has a FaceBook page, that is locked. The only information I can get from the page is that he is in the Air Force...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=46107798

mikeylike1 4 years, 7 months ago

What information do you all want? I'm his uncle and can assure you he is not a meth head or a dirt bag. He's a good kid that was drinking just like the rest of the thousands of kids in Lawrence but had to much and ended up in a bad situation. We don't know what led him to the events but I assure you that he is a good kid and good Americanand we still love him very much. I also assure you he had no intention on hurting anyone as many of the people did who drove home drunk last night and will tonight and as most of you probebly have.

If you must do or say something about this case, do it on your knees asking God to give peace, comfort and understanding to all of the families and friends effected by this tragedy.

weegee 4 years, 7 months ago

It is a sad time for everyone involved, but saying he "ended up in a bad situation" is not exactly accurate. A 23-year-old man is hardly a kid out drinking. Stealing a vehicle is a conscious decision. Leaving the scene of an accident is a conscious decision. I'm sure most people reading about this are looking for him to take responsibility for his actions.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 7 months ago

One person dead, one person still in the hospital. The driver has a totaled car and a dead friend...

Zach and his family have nothing to complain about. If they do have complaints, they should be directed at Zach.

fu7il3 4 years, 7 months ago

He stole a car and killed someone. I'd say that is more than ending up in a bad decision.

Sigmund 4 years, 7 months ago

News Flash: The rules might be different in Arkansas but in Kansas when you are DUI and kill a innocent kid in a stolen truck you go from "good kid" status to "piece of crap."

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 7 months ago

He's in the Air Force? He's in real trouble! The military does not take kindly to service members that commit crimes. First, the civilian matter will need to be cleared up and the prison time served, which will likely take several years.

After that, even though he may be very old, he will be handed over to the military. Then, he will face very severe consequences. Usually the punishment meted out by the military is far beyond what is given in a civilian court.

I don't know what all he'll face then, but one of the charges is known as: casting the service in a disfavorable light.

I believe he will be very, very old if he ever walks the earth as a free man again.

Sigmund 4 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, the "following to closely" charge would make me sweat.

RoeDapple 4 years, 7 months ago

A good kid, uncle mikey? Tell it to the family of the deceased

mikeylike1 4 years, 7 months ago

Uncle Mikey is very concerned for the families of the deceased and the injured. I have put my email address out there to allow them to contact me if there is anything I can do. Even if they need someone to yell at, hit, blame or whatever.

If I had the chance I would tell that to the decease family. I as of now don't know how to or even if I should get ahold of them.

And as for why I have played down what has happened....well we still don't fully know what happened. From the obvious upfront things that we know I'm as mad about this as anyone. Someone in my family maybe responsible for the unwarranted death and injury of others. Me and the rest of his family and friends take this very serious. We all feel a little responsible for this. Did we not do or say the right things with him?

I totally understand the hurt and anger of everyone and don't blame you. If it were my nephew that was the victim I'm sure I would feel the same. Difference is that I know, love and have been a part of his life for 23 years and know that this is not in his true character without the influence of something else.

zantesuken 4 years, 7 months ago

Mike, I just wanted you to know how much I respect your willingness to stand up for your nephew, I can't imagine what you're going through. I was a friend of the victim and his family, and believe me when I say that those who actually knew Cam are not the one lashing out at you or your family. Any time I pray for the Freemans, I'll remember to pray for you, also. Go in peace, my brother.

mikeylike1 4 years, 7 months ago

So is everyone here telling me that not one other good kid didn't get influenced by the party scene in Lawrence and not do something that was out of their character even if it was only something small?

My nephew will be tried in court and pay for what he did, as he should. But, does everyone really think that this happenes only to someone else and they are better then that? Because I'm here, and normal family man, to tell you that the decision to drink and party can turn into something this severe even to a GOOD KID!! I hope this wakes up a lot of people and other good kids.

Paul Hahn 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for that warning. Ordinary people can become extraordinarily "dumb" when drunk or high. Many of us have done stupid things when drunk, but by God's grace, never did THIS. Our stupid, drunken mistakes didn't kill anyone, and that's really the only difference between him and us.

I once tossed some empty bottles out the window of a car while drunk. It was on a highway in Wichita and that glass could have caused a fatal wreck. "Tossing glass" wasn't the same as "stealing a truck", but you get my point.

papillon 4 years, 7 months ago

I grew up in Lawrence and lived there for many years as an adult, and I've been reading these comments for a while now. I've found most of the people that post on these pages to be moderately to fairly self-righteous and holier than thou.

I'm sorry he was a stupid drunk. It happens all the time in town. And I'm sorry for the family of the injured and passed.

I don't know how many times I saw or heard about people under 30 doing stupid drunk stuff, and almost getting hurt. It happens. It's Lawrence. It's a sweet, friendly, boring town, with very little to do for entertainment other than talk about other people, eat and drink. And sometimes that doesn't end well. Which is actually a fairly normal outcome.

Justice will be served - twice in this case. Which is far more than if Lawrence were the only Authority in the case.

labmonkey 4 years, 7 months ago

Instead of wasting millions of dollars on his trial and incarceration, transfer him to the Marines, send him to Afghanistan, and make him point man for every urban warfare mission out there.

riverdrifter 4 years, 7 months ago

The Old Breed wouldn't have him. Only the very best go up on the sharp end for the Marines. Next.

mrns738 4 years, 7 months ago

I had to earn the title of Marine. I would prefer it not be handed out to trash.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 7 months ago

Good thing he didn't have any weed, then they really would have thrown the book at him.

yankeevet 4 years, 7 months ago

Once again drinking and driving does not mix........................

topflight 4 years, 7 months ago

Pro-tem Judge James George is the worst. Very surprised that he allowed the bond to even be that high. Judge George, you are terrible.

Paul Hahn 4 years, 7 months ago

This tragic story provides us with a stark vignette of alcoholism. We can talk about the clinical definition of "abuse" or "dependence" and ask questions about how many drinks are consumed over how much time, etc. But when we are asking "Do I have a drinking problem?", you can cut through a lot of psycho-babble by asking two simple questions:

1 - Have I gotten drunk, and then did things that I regretted later that were directly related to my inebriation? And... 2 - Do I STILL drink to the point of drunkenness in spite of having a history of making regrettable mistakes when drunk?

If drinking gets you in trouble YET you still allow yourself to get drunk, you probably have a drinking problem. Because at that point you are living by the rule of "Drinking really hurts me, but drinking is so important to me that I ignore/minimize the consequences of drinking." Some would call that stoopid (and in some cases it really is just "idiocy" that makes people live that way), but "addiction" explains it better than stoopid.

I'm sure this man's uncle is right: He's a good man, a patriot, etc. At the same time, I would want to ask his uncle or anyone else who knows him if his drinking had gotten him in "situations" in the past. He impulsively stole a vehicle while drunk. What other "mistakes" has he made when drunk? If this incident is part of a pattern of behavior, then he really needed to consider seeking out treatment regarding his drinking.

My condolences to all the victims and to the airman's family as well.

Paul Hahn 4 years, 7 months ago

Uncle Mike: "I know, love and have been a part of his life for 23 years and know that this is not in his true character without the influence of something else."

Exactly what I'm pointing out.

mikeylike1 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Paul. As for your questions. There haven't been any other problems that we have identified, and unless a toxicology shows that he was possibly drugged, this is most likely a case of bing drinking while back visiting family and friends. You know how it goes. Back in the company of your closest and oldest friends, you feel good and comfortable. Then you have drank yourself into someone your not.

Please understand I don't want any of this to take away from the fact that a family and friends lost a loved one. Along with the other 3 men in the car and there injuries. They are were our thoughts and prayers should be. My nephew will have time to pay for his mistakes and learn to live with what has happened. Those families have to deal with loss of what sounds like a great person right now.

My greatest prayer right now is for peace and somekind of understanding for the families. And my second is that one kid sees this tragedy and makes the decision to stop before it becomes a mistake.

hitman33 4 years, 7 months ago

"Those families have to deal with loss of what sounds like a great person right now." RIGHT NOW????? They have to deal with with this for the rest of their lives.

sad_lawrencian 4 years, 7 months ago

Time to change sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter or charge the perp with murder.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 7 months ago

Then the definition of "murder" would have to be changed. Obviously he didn't have the accident on purpose. He was just criminally negligent in his actions which caused a terrible accident.

KansasPerson 4 years, 7 months ago

"I also assure you he had no intention on hurting anyone as many of the people did who drove home drunk last night and will tonight and as most of you probebly have."

Heavens above but I'm getting tired of people getting on here every time something like this happens and telling us all outright that "most of us" have probably driven drunk. It just isn't true. Some of us are educated enough to have the facts, and responsible and street-smart enough to put them into practice. However, if it makes you feel better to believe it, then there's not much anyone can do to talk you out of it.

Russell Fryberger 4 years, 7 months ago

You all forget, it's Lawrence, he'll walk. "god" will lead him to riteousness and make it all better for him. The Freeman man is still dead because of the selfless unthinking act of another drunk driver.

Vinny1 4 years, 7 months ago

He'll get a couple years max.

Its a joke. You are literally better off to run away, and turn yourself in the next day. You're punishment will be a joke for the crime you committed.

People like this should be put away for 25 to life. Instead he will get 1-3 and be free to go.

greenworld 4 years, 7 months ago

I dont see on charge listed, what about the charge for stealing the car, isnt that grand theft auto or somthing in that regards and im not seeing it. Let me repeat, nothing ever good happens at 340 in the morning. You will run into two types of people out on the road. Drunks or 2nd shift workers getting off work and falling asleep at the wheel. So im wondering how so much damage was done to the car, im assuming he rear ended them and it spun them and then it rolled several times by the looks of it. It only takes one poor decision to change ones life forever good kid or bad kid. This kid obviously had some type of problems to steal a car and do what happened with nobody to turn to or call to get a ride if he was drunk.

beaujackson 4 years, 7 months ago

Why did the driver leave the keys in the truck.

Most delivery truck drivers remove keys when they leave their trucks.

raoulduke 4 years, 7 months ago

This is a tragedy on many levels. Godspeed to the victims, everyone associated who is devastated, and also this young man who made terrible decisions that ended a life and ruined his own.

rebainks 4 years, 7 months ago

Zach is a good guy! I know he would never hurt anyone on purpose! Yes it is terrible that a young man had to die due to bad decisions, but you all don't know Zach so don't judge him till you do. He will have to live with this the rest of his life and i know it is tearing him apart! My heart goes out to the family of the young man that died in this accident. Only God can judge us. I pray for all the people that all involved in this accident and want Zach to know that we love him. May God be with you all.

nepenthe 4 years, 7 months ago

/He/ will have to live with this for the rest of his life? At least he has a life to live. The person he killed (intentionally or not, he DID kill him) will not. And his family will have to live never knowing what kind of person he might have been if Zach had not stolen a truck and rear-ended the car he was riding in.

I am so tired of these 'don't judge them bro!' comments. I'd prefer to see something like 'What Zach did was awful, and we are very sorry to the friends and family of the young man whose life came to a tragic end and are praying for for all of them.' Just leave the excuses and the don't juuuuuuudges out. Thanks!

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