Sunday, October 28, 2007

Drink, drive, kill two people and get acquitted...

On November 26, 2004, Holly and Nancy Cummings, mother and daughter, were hit dead-on by Billy Nichols. Both women died as a result of their injuries. Billy Nichols, a successful local businessman and champion waterskier, had a blood alcohol level of .103. The legal limit is .08. The judge dismissed vehicular manslaughter charges and the jury recently found him not guilty of DUI manslaughter.

How can this be?

It's because Billy Nichols paid top money to a top defense lawyer and a top defense lawyer can hire top experts whose technical jargon for the purpose of confusing the average jury. And that's what happened. Amazingly enough, the jury bought the idea that Nichols had a gastric condition which miraculously caused Nichols blood alcohol level to spike at just the right moment---when he went off and then back on the road and hit the victims. Then of course add in the idea that he was tired and the road conditions were poor, and you have an acquittal.

The gastric issue is an interesting but absurd theory. It does exist but in this case it's hard to digest because the facts don't add up to the possibility that it could have happened, at least not to those of us who have followed the case even a little bit. It just seems farfetched. There's no evidence in Nichols's medical records that he suffers from such a condition. There's no evidence he had a big meal the night before (which can cause this so-called gastric thing to go into action), in fact Nichols himself had told the FHP officers on the scene that he hadn't eaten the night before yet at the trial he said he had.

What this is--is a travesty of justice. Which goes to show that money talks. If you have the money to hire the best lawyers and you parade a bunch of experts in front of an uneducated jury, this is what you get.

The people who voted to acquit Billy Nichols should only hope that next time he has his alleged gastric issues while driving, they're not anywhere in the vicinity.

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