Vehicular Homicide: Car vs. Bike

Jury Duty: I Was Actually Seated!  Then I was dimissed just prior to deliberations as I was deemed an alternate.  Now why is that amazing?  Well, I am a full-time bike commuter and the case was Vehicular Homicide; Car v Bike. 

I have to admit, when the Voire Dire started and they asked if anyone rode a bike I figured I would soon go home.  I raised my hand and I was questioned at length about cycling:
Do you have a light on your bike?  Do you have a tail light that blinks?  Do you stop at stop signs?  Do you stop at red lights?  Do you ride on the road? Do you talk on your cell phone?  Blah, blah, blah...
I was completely surprised when we came back in to learn I was on the jury.  I was more surprised at the legal process in the state of Florida.  I can tell you without a doubt that the 2009 Toyota Yaris did in fact hit the cyclist.  I know the cyclist died.  I know the cyclist was crossing the street at an angle, against the traffic signals.  I also know the cyclist was impaired (drugs and alcohol).  What I don't know?  I don't know who was driving the car and I don't believe the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt!  Why you ask?  Well, let's go over that.  But first - I can tell you it was a young black man on trial and the only black person on the jury was also dismissed as an alternate just prior to deliberations.  I know that we both felt, based on the evidence presented, the young man on trial was "Not Guilty."  I also know that the jury of his six peers, all white, convicted him of vehicular homicide, fleeing and alluding and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.  I also know this young man is facing 60 years in prison.  So why do I feel they got it wrong?

Well, let's start with the evidence.  First off, the eyewitness of the police officer, who gave a positive ID of the driver of a car, that the officer acknowledged was driving in reverse at 25 MPH; at a distance of 20 - 25 feet.  So, there was a positive ID of a black driver who was not facing forward, at night, from 25 feet away, in a black car. The original description called in was a "light skinned male with short hair."  Doesn't sound real black to me.  Also, I struggle with the fact that the officer changed his description 3 times over the first nine hours after the accident.

DNA evidence showed that the driver was NOT a potential contributor to DNA taken off either the drivers door handle or the steering.  However, the DNA evidence shows that the driver was a potential contributor to the DNA sample on the gear shift.  Oh, there are at least 100 other males in St Pete who also matched the sample.  It also showed it could have been a white male or a Hispanic male.

Finally, the car was found in an abandoned house in the defendant's neighborhood.  WOW - and that convicted him.

Don't get me wrong, I want justice for the cyclist.  But I want fair justice.  After three days of the trial, I am convinced he was not the right person.  So what to do?  Really, there is nothing I can do.  Except continue to be safe on the streets, continue to pursue cyclist rights.  More importantly, I can pursue fairness in the legal system.  As long as folks are railroaded, there will always be animosity between parties.

As always, be safe!
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