Douglas County prosecutors have filed an additional misdemeanor charge against a 22-year-old Kansas University student in connection with an August accident that cost another student his legs.
The new charge, refusing to submit to drug or alcohol testing, a misdemeanor, was filed against Julian Kuszmaul Monday, as he awaits a trial in September on charges of second-offense DUI, possession of marijuana and following too closely, all misdemeanors.
Kuszmual was first charged in Douglas County District Court in January, months after the Aug. 26 accident in the 1600 block of Tennessee Street that badly injured another KU student, Colby Liston. Since then, Kuszmaul's attorney, Thomas Bath Jr., has filed a motion to suppress the results of a blood test administered to Kuszmaul after the accident.
The test results showed Kuszmaul's blood-alcohol was 0.25, three times the legal limit of 0.08, when his Ford Explorer struck and pinned Liston, who was 18 at the time, between Kuszmaul's vehicle and another. The vehicle Liston was standing behind was illegally parked in a driving lane of Tennessee Street. Following the accident, both of Liston's legs were amputated above the knee.
Liston did not allow the accident to keep him down. Last month, he competed in the University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla. Running on carbon-fiber blades, Liston entered the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the games, a national multisport competition for athletes with disabilities that drew more than 550 competitors. He won his age group in the 200 and 400.
In Kuszmaul's case, Douglas County District Judge Kay Huff has not yet ruled on the defense's effort to exclude the blood tests from evidence. But a conviction for refusing a test could carry a penalty similar to a DUI conviction.
After the accident, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said state law did not permit his office to file more serious charges. Since then, a law strengthening penalties against drunken drivers became effective July 1. The law, which Branson traveled to Topeka to support, allows prosecutors to charge drunken drivers with aggravated battery in injury accidents.
"If this law had been in place a year sooner, it would have definitely been utilized in the Liston matter," Branson said after the bill was passed in March.
Because Kuszmual has a prior conviction for DUI, the charge of refusing a test for drugs or alcohol after the August accident could carry a penalty of 90 days to one year in jail, if he is convicted. The law would require him to spend at least five days in jail even if probation is granted. The misdemeanor DUI charge also carries a sentence of up to one year in jail.
Kuszmaul is free on a $1,500 bond, and trial in the case is set for Sept. 4. His attorney, Bath, declined to comment.