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  1. #1
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Motorists pleads to involuntary manslaughter, gets 90 days for killing bicyclist

    Preface: Fifteen bicyclists out on a group ride on a flat, straight, long 45mph section of 2-lane rural highway with low traffic volume, no other vehicles in vicinity at time of collision, ~6pm but still daylight, plenty of time for a motorist to see a line of cyclists directly in front before intercept. Cyclists were helmeted with taillights.

    Motorist apparently tried to sneak up on group, then floored it so his exhaust would scare bicyclists, based on cyclists' reports of sudden, loud, roaring exhaust immediately before collision. Motorist strikes 5 of the 15 cyclists. One cyclist received serious head injury, then lingered in coma for months before death.

    Motorist claimed momentary distraction. County eventually charges reckless homicide after death and public pressure from bicyclists.

    ----------------------------------

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/cr...y?v=1318897226

    A Beech Island man accused of fatally injuring an Eisenhower hospital surgeon while he was cycling will be sentenced today after pleading guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter. Daniel Johnson had faced a charge of reckless homicide in the death of Matthew Burke.

    Daniel Johnson was to be tried on a charge of reckless homicide in connection with the Oct. 1, 2010, wreck that killed Maj. Matthew Burke, 38, an orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, who died in February from his injuries. Four other cyclists were injured.

    The arrest warrant says that the group of about 15 cyclists was “legally in the roadway” and that Johnson’s driving was “grossly negligent which caused the death of Mr. Matthew Burke.”

    Johnson changed his mind a couple times during Monday’s hearing. He initially agreed to a guilty plea, then asked for a jury trial but later returned to the plea deal.

    The plea gives Johnson, a former employee of Aiken County Emergency Management, 90 days in jail, five years probation and revocation of his driver’s license.

    Sentencing was delayed to give the Burke family, including Burke’s widow, Bonnie Burke, a chance to speak.

    Aiken County Judge Jack Early told Johnson that his attorney, Jim Huff, had gone to “extreme lengths” to come up with a solution that gives appropriate punishment while also taking into account Johnson’s lack of a criminal background.

    The resolution does not include restitution or fines, but reserves the right for the Burke family to pursue civil action against Johnson or anyone else involved in the case.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Preface: Fifteen bicyclists out on a group ride on a flat, straight, long 45mph section of 2-lane rural highway with low traffic volume, no other vehicles in vicinity at time of collision, ~6pm but still daylight, plenty of time for a motorist to see a line of cyclists directly in front before intercept. Cyclists were helmeted with taillights.

    Motorist apparently tried to sneak up on group, then floored it so his exhaust would scare bicyclists, based on cyclists' reports of sudden, loud, roaring exhaust immediately before collision. Motorist strikes 5 of the 15 cyclists. One cyclist received serious head injury, then lingered in coma for months before death.

    Motorist claimed momentary distraction. County eventually charges reckless homicide after death and public pressure from bicyclists.

    .
    I don't doubt the cyclists' story of the aggressive driving, but I'm curious why it's not in the media report. Is there a link to the cyclists' story? Did it come out in the trial?

  3. #3
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Preface: Fifteen bicyclists out on a group ride on a flat, straight, long 45mph section of 2-lane rural highway with low traffic volume, no other vehicles in vicinity at time of collision, ~6pm but still daylight, plenty of time for a motorist to see a line of cyclists directly in front before intercept. Cyclists were helmeted with taillights.

    Motorist apparently tried to sneak up on group, then floored it so his exhaust would scare bicyclists, based on cyclists' reports of sudden, loud, roaring exhaust immediately before collision. Motorist strikes 5 of the 15 cyclists. One cyclist received serious head injury, then lingered in coma for months before death.

    Motorist claimed momentary distraction. County eventually charges reckless homicide after death and public pressure from bicyclists.

    ----------------------------------

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/cr...y?v=1318897226

    A Beech Island man accused of fatally injuring an Eisenhower hospital surgeon while he was cycling will be sentenced today after pleading guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter. Daniel Johnson had faced a charge of reckless homicide in the death of Matthew Burke.

    Daniel Johnson was to be tried on a charge of reckless homicide in connection with the Oct. 1, 2010, wreck that killed Maj. Matthew Burke, 38, an orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, who died in February from his injuries. Four other cyclists were injured.

    The arrest warrant says that the group of about 15 cyclists was “legally in the roadway” and that Johnson’s driving was “grossly negligent which caused the death of Mr. Matthew Burke.”

    Johnson changed his mind a couple times during Monday’s hearing. He initially agreed to a guilty plea, then asked for a jury trial but later returned to the plea deal.

    The plea gives Johnson, a former employee of Aiken County Emergency Management, 90 days in jail, five years probation and revocation of his driver’s license.

    Sentencing was delayed to give the Burke family, including Burke’s widow, Bonnie Burke, a chance to speak.

    Aiken County Judge Jack Early told Johnson that his attorney, Jim Huff, had gone to “extreme lengths” to come up with a solution that gives appropriate punishment while also taking into account Johnson’s lack of a criminal background.

    The resolution does not include restitution or fines, but reserves the right for the Burke family to pursue civil action against Johnson or anyone else involved in the case.
    Since when does a lack of a criminal background predicate punishment? I can see that for setting bail, but not for the initial charge. That just cheapens a cyclist's life all the more. How about they get a bunch of nasty motorists each with no criminal background, who all get off with a slap on the wrist(dare I say fine). The legal system's hypocrisy will be all that more pompous.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Total travesty!!!!!

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    Since when does a lack of a criminal background predicate punishment? I can see that for setting bail, but not for the initial charge.
    Prior criminal background does not play a part in the initial charge, but it does play a huge part in sentencing and plea bargins. Even though it may be way too minimal for us, 90 days in jail, five years probation and revocation of his driver’s license is a significant punishment for a first time conviction.

    I suspect that the only reason the JAM got that much, was because the man he killed was a military member and a doctor.
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

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    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    I suspect that the only reason the JAM got that much, was because the man he killed was a military member and a doctor.
    Well, that plus 14 witnesses for the prosecution.

    Sounds like perpetrator was also not the best liar. One time he said he was distracted reaching for sunglasses (apparently he was going to claim sun in his eyes, except the sun was at his back). Another time he said papers fell off dash and distracted him.

    BTW I was mistaken in OP - it's a 35mph road, which is why the road is part of the LBS ride route in the first place.
    Last edited by seeker333; 10-19-11 at 04:36 AM.

  7. #7
    Vegan on a bicycle smasha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Prior criminal background does not play a part in the initial charge, but it does play a huge part in sentencing and plea bargins. Even though it may be way too minimal for us, 90 days in jail, five years probation and revocation of his driver’s license is a significant punishment for a first time conviction.

    I suspect that the only reason the JAM got that much, was because the man he killed was a military member and a doctor.
    sounds about right, with some variation from state to state. here in NZ the penalty would probably be 6-12 months loss of license, and maybe a few thousand dollar fine.

    hell, here we've got a "professional driver" who's killed two bicyclists in two separate incidents, and he still hasn't seen the inside of a prison - http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/ne...king-/1006009/
    "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells

  8. #8
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Prior criminal background does not play a part in the initial charge, but it does play a huge part in sentencing and plea bargains. Even though it may be way too minimal for us, 90 days in jail, five years probation and revocation of his driver’s license is a significant punishment for a first time conviction.

    I suspect that the only reason the JAM got that much, was because the man he killed was a military member and a doctor.
    Yes plea bargains do play a part in sentencing, but that is at court. It is the 'just an accident' attitude. I am referring to the initial charge by the police. Instead of charging someone with reckless homicide for killing a cyclist, they might even to do the dumb thing, and say the motorist committed justifiable homicide.

  9. #9
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    [QUOTE=seeker333;13382460]Motorist apparently tried to sneak up on group, then floored it so his exhaust would scare bicyclists, based on cyclists' reports of sudden, loud, roaring exhaust immediately before collision. Motorist strikes 5 of the 15 cyclists. One cyclist received serious head injury, then lingered in coma for months before death.

    /QUOTE]

    Are these details posted anywhere? I just browsed the first dozen articles I could find including the family's pre-sentencing statement and I can't find any suggestion of malice -- the motorist trying to sneak up on the group, "flooring it" to scare the cyclists, roaring exhaust, etc. I see only allegations of gross negligence.

    That's quite bad enough, and the loss is tragic, but was there malice or not?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Motorist apparently tried to sneak up on group, then floored it so his exhaust would scare bicyclists, based on cyclists' reports of sudden, loud, roaring exhaust immediately before collision. Motorist strikes 5 of the 15 cyclists. One cyclist received serious head injury, then lingered in coma for months before death.
    Are these details posted anywhere? I just browsed the first dozen articles I could find including the family's pre-sentencing statement and I can't find any suggestion of malice -- the motorist trying to sneak up on the group, "flooring it" to scare the cyclists with his exhaust, etc. I see only allegations of gross negligence.

    That's quite bad enough, and the loss is tragic, but was there malice or not?

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