More than two years after the 2011 accident that took the life of Paul Nauman of Chesterville, final charges against Cory Jackson of Bellville have been resolved, and the case will move on to trial.
Defense attorneys requested at a January 8, 2014 motion hearing that all charges against their client be dropped, based on ‘outrageous governmental conduct’ and failure to preserve evidence (favorable to the defendant). Most particularly, they focused on Count 4: Failure to remain at the scene (failure to stop and exchange identity information and vehicle registration to notify nearest law enforcement). S. Michael Lear and Larry Zukerman maintained the ‘Speedy Trial’ laws of the State of Ohio should be applicable and the charge should be dismissed.
In Judge Howard Hall’s decision, issued January 24, he agreed.
The decision stated the charge of ‘fleeing the scene’ must be counted 270 days from the time of the defendant’s arrest, since there is no evidence the prosecution was unaware of the incident at that time.
Asst. Morrow County Prosecutor David Homer felt it was a separate incident, since ‘Jackson decided to leave the scene and had to be searched out before his arrest.’ Had the charge stood, it could have carried a five-year sentence.
As for the motion to dismiss regarding outrageous governmental conduct and failure to preserve evidence, the decision stated, ‘although it is clear that several questionable techniques were used in the gathering and evaluation by the Ohio State Patrol in this case… there is nothing before this Court which supports the proposition that the conduct was outrageous in nature or intended to hide exculpatory evidence.’ Questions about how the investigation was conducted can be presented to and considered by the jury, the document stated.
The decision also stated both parties agreed to dismiss counts 2 and 3 of the superseding indictment filed October 10, 2013: Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (F-3) and Vehicular Homicide (M-1),* noting they are subject to possible lesser included offenses instructions for the jury at the trial.
Charges of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Operating a Vehicle with a Prohibited Breath Concentration (of .181) will stand. Hall ruled the defense was afforded additional time to fully evaluate all that was corrected and preserved as evidence from the scene, subsequent to the accident.
Homer said he has a lot of faith with the underlying case being true, and all the facts will be presented during the trial.
“The legal standard comes down to what’s the proximate cause of the crash,” he said after Friday’s decision. “That means the jury is going to have to do some work.”
As for the defense’s ‘expert’ reconstruction of the accident, Homer said, “In our world, we don’t let the experts decide. We put it to twelve average people and say, ‘you decide.’”
A two-week trial is scheduled to begin February 18, 2014 at 9 a.m.
* recklessly and negligently causing the death of Paul Nauman