The defendant was unconscious behind the wheel (intoxicated and traces of cocaine were also found). His vehicle crossed the center line. He was accused of speeding while the other vehicle was supposedly traveling only 21 MPH at the time. Witnesses initially stated the other vehicle hit the defendants vehicle without attempting to swerve. The victims were not wearing seatbelts and there were no skid marks on the pavement indicating that they attempted to avoid his truck on the straight-away. His first statement to the officer was, "That car hit me." At trial all expert witnesses were dismissed quickly. His attorney raised no objections when the judge forced him to simulate snorting cocaine, nor to the death certificate issue.
In general, voluntary intoxication is not accepted as a defense against the state of mind element of an offense. Also, not all homicide offenses require an intentional or purposeful act. For many, recklessness or even negligence will suffice. Without knowing the exact statute under which the defendant was convicted it is hard to say more than that. He should, of course, appeal. There are time limitations for filing an appeal, so it is best to get a lawyer on that quickly.
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What got written on the Death Certificate does not control the Prosecutor's decision whether to charge some version of homicide. I don't know what case you are referring to but it sounds like the Defendant may have been charged with Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle, which does not require the State to prove that the Defendant intended to cause a death.
Regardless of what the death certificate says, the government will lose unless it can prove that defendant's drunken driving was a substantial factor in causing that death. Wording on the certificate is possibly relevant and exculpatory but not definitive, since drunken driving accidental deaths are all accidental (the key element of guilt being the drinking and getting behind the wheel rather than any intent to kill as in a normal homicide). Unfortunately, the defendant's vehicle being found across the center client with him at the wheel drunk does not look good for him and the jury could certainly use it as the basis for a verdict to convict him. You should therefore go over your theories with his lawyer, but not think that they will win the case. Accident reconstruction experts are commonly used in this cases, and their testimony is often taken rather quickly and out of sequence in order to accommodate their professional schedules. Since defendants may suffer from memory blackout, there sometimes are no other living witnesses.
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Homicide by intoxicated (or drugged) operation of a motor vehicle does not require that your driving in that state or condition be the only cause of death, simply that it contributed to the situation that caused the death. It is an affirmative defense that the death would have happened even without your actions.
As for a demonstration of snorting cocaine, I would need to know all of the circumstances.
It sounds as if you have been convicted. If so, you have a very short period of time in which to indicate your intention to appeal. Your trial lawyer is obligated to file any necessary papers to preserve that right, upon request from you. Chances are good that you can get help from the public defender's office for an appeal if you can't afford to hire a lawyer on your own. I would urge you to act now.
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