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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: involuntary manslaughter

Woman gets 30 days for fatal DUI crash

A motorist who accidentally hit and killed a close friend on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation after dropping him off following a night of drinking avoided prison when she was sentenced in U.S. District Court recently.

 Andrea M. George, 19, will spend 30 days in jail, six months in a halfway house and be on home confinement under a sentence imposed in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene, where she pleaded guilty in July to involuntary manslaughter.

George is to  complete 80 hours of community service and pay $3,000 in restitution. Her license will be suspended for a year.

George had a blood-alcohol level of .151 after the April 19, 2010, crash on Desmet Road at Ajot Road that killed Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho.

George had let Gourneau out of the car after an argument and was returning to him when she struck him while cresting a hill in a 2002 Honda Civic on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m.

George was airlifted to a Spokane hospital and has undergone several surgeries, according to court documents.
“Andrea often comments that she wishes it was her that had been killed in the accident,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by her lawyer, Jim Siebe. “…Andrea cannot remember anything about the accident, which has caused significant nightmares and distress, as her mind naturally tries to fill in the blanks for an event for which she has no memory.”

George is enrolled at North Idaho College and wants to open a bakery, according to the memorandum.
Prosecutors called for George to be sentenced to 30 months in prison, but Siebe said that wasn't necessary.

“Without question, Andrea can do more outside of prison to foster/engender public awareness of the perils of drinking and driving,” according to the memo. “She can show by example that someone can pull herself up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and change a life of unemployment/alcohol abuse to gainful employment, education and productivity.”

George was sentenced Sept. 7.

Driver who killed pedestrian pleads guilty

A motorist who killed a pedestrian while drunk on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation last year has pleaded guilty.

 Andrea M. George, 19, faces up to eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and no more than three years probation for the April 19, 2010, crash on Desmet Road at Ajot Road that killed Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho.

Gourneau was walking when George struck him while cresting a hill in a 2002 Honda Civic on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m.

George was airlifted to a Spokane hospital but has since recovered. She was indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter in November.

She's to be sentenced Sept. 7 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

3-crash survivor sentenced to 3 years

A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, has been sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., 26, of Worley, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine in August 2009 when he lost control of his 1997 Jeep Cherokee and left Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County road, killing William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Matt (pictured) has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either. A federal grand jury indicted Matt, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, for the Aug. 18, 2009, crash last June.

He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. In addition to 36 months in prison, Matt is to be on probation for three years after his release and is to pay $5,707.66 to cover Davison's funeral costs.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said Matt had prior convictions for driving under the influence, and that the case “called out for deterrents.”

Lodge said he needed to “send a message that drinking and driving will not be tolerated because they result in tragedies like this one,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office..

Boy’s Uzi shooting video shown at trial

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a former police chief watched video Thursday of an 8-year-old boy accidentally shooting himself to death with an Uzi submachine gun at a 2008 gun fair, a sight that prompted a collective gasp in the courtroom.

The video, taken by the boy's father, shows Christopher Bizilj, of Ashford, Conn., shooting the 9 mm micro Uzi when the front of the weapon kicks back toward his head and part of the boy's skull appears to fly off.

Former Pelham, Mass., police Chief Edward Fleury, (right) whose company co-sponsored the gun fair at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and furnishing weapons to a minor. He's on trial in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield.

  The boy's father, emergency room Dr. Charles Bizilj, testified Thursday that he videotaped Christopher with the micro Uzi, which jammed several times. He said he started and stopped videotaping several times as the gun jammed. At one point, he said he picked his camera up, looked toward the firing line and couldn't see Christopher.

Chris was not in the viewfinder,” Bizilj (left) testified calmly with no visible signs of emotion. “Chris was on the ground. I ran over to him. His eyes were open. I saw no reason for him to be on the ground. I tried to talk to him. He didn't respond. I put my hand behind his head to pick him up. … There was a large portion of his cranium missing.”

Bizilj said he gave medical attention to Christopher until paramedics arrived.

Some relatives began to cry during the testimony, and several left the courtroom. They declined to comment earlier in the day.

Dr. Bizilj said his two young sons were excited about the gun fair, which he had first heard about months earlier at a Labor Day party and in talks with friends.

“This was a big event,” Bizilj testified. “Christopher wore his special camo pants, camo shoes and a jacket with big pockets because he had been in the habit of collecting shells off the ground.”

The doctor said his sons had used firearms but had never shot automatic weapons before the machine gun shoot in Westfield, about 10 miles west of Springfield.

Bizilj said he, his father-in-law and his older son Colin, then 11, fired a larger Uzi that they selected before they went shooting. He said the Uzi jammed when Colin was shooting it, and the range master picked out the micro Uzi.

Bizilj said Colin fired the micro Uzi. When he was done, Christopher stepped up to the firing line with the range master, who was next to the boy when the shooting happened.

 Prosecutor William Bennett has said Christopher was too young to control the powerful weapon, which fires 1,200 rounds per minute. A now-retired state medical examiner (pictured below who performed an autopsy on Christopher testified that the boy died from a single bullet wound that caused major brain damage and bleeding.

Fleury's company, COPS Firearms & Training, co-sponsored the event with the Westfield Sportsman's Club. When asked by Bennett if he had thought about safety before the event, Bizilj said, “You can imagine this has gone through my head a thousand times.”

He said that from reading the flier for the machine gun shoot and talking with friends, he thought the event would be safe and well-supervised.

Bizilj acknowledged under cross-examination by Fleury's lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, that he signed a waiver at the Sportsman's Club before the shooting saying he was aware of the possible risks, including death, and absolved anyone of liability. He also acknowledged that he told reporters soon after the event that he believed it was a tragic accident but later decided to file a lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed against the Westfield Sportsman's Club, Fleury and two other co-defendants for negligence. It was settled last month for about $700,000, but Fleury wasn't part of the settlement, Scapicchio said.

Bizilj said his family would use the money to set up a foundation for children's activities.

During opening statement Tuesday, Scapicchio said Fleury wasn't to blame for the boy's death and that much of the responsibility fell on Dr. Bizilj for allowing his son to shoot a dangerous weapon.

Prosecutors have said that Charles Bizilj was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision to allow his sons to fire the gun on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous.

Two men who supplied the machine guns for the event, Carl Giuffre and Domenico Spano, both of Connecticut, had conducted the same gun shoot at the Westfield club for seven years without incident. They have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and are awaiting trial.

Baby sitter charged w/ manslaughter

A baby sitter accused of killing a 3-year-old Post Falls boy will be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a judge ruled this week.

Kootenai County prosecutors had sought to charge Amanda L. Skogen, 26, with first-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison or the death penalty. 

But First District Court Magistrate Judge Clark A. Peterson ruled Wednesday that while Skogen’s actions had “incredibly grievous” consequences, they did not amount to murder.

Prosecutors say Skogen was on her knees when she violently shoved Cohen Johnson on Oct. 4, causing him to fall back and hit his head.

She confessed to shoving the boy after he wet his pants and reportedly told police: “I hurt a poor little defenseless boy … And it was all my fault.”

Idaho law allows for a first-degree murder charge if the death occurred in the course of aggravated battery on a child under 12, but Peterson questioned whether Skogen’s actions before Cohen’s death constituted aggravated battery.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Past coverage:

Oct. 12: Baby sitter in boy’s death: ‘It was all my fault’

Oct. 11: Idaho baby sitter jailed on murder charges

3-crash survivor pleads guilty in fatality

 A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for an August 2009 crash.

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., 25, of Worley, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine when he lost control of his 1997 Jeep Cherokee and left Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County road, killing William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Matt has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either.

A federal grand jury indicted Matt, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, for the Aug. 18, 2009, crash in June.

He pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years probation when he’s sentenced Feb. 23. He remains in federal custody.

Grand jury indicts driver in fatal crash

A motorist who killed a pedestrian while intoxicated last April on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Andrea M. George, who was 18 at the time of the crash, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the April 19 crash on Desmet Road at Ajot Road that killed Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho.

Gourneau was walking when George struck him while cresting a hill in a 2002 Honda Civic on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m.

George was airlifted to a Spokane hospital but has since recovered. She booked into the Kootenai County Jail Thursday after a grand jury indicted her on the involuntary manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum penalty of eights years in prison or a $250,000 fine and no more than three years probation.

The charge alleges George was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and was speeding at the time for the crash. Her first appearance in U.S. District Court is scheduled for Monday in Coeur d’Alene.

CdA tribesman jailed for deadly car crash

A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, is in federal custody on a manslaughter charge for a crash last summer. 

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, was charged in connection with an Aug. 18 crash on Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County that killed William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Davison died after the 1997 Jeep Cherokee Matt, now 25, was driving left the road and vaulted nearly 250 feet, taking off the tops of two trees.

Investigators couldn’t immediately determine who was driving the Jeep but now say Matt was driving too fast and was drunk and high on methamphetamine, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.

Matt is to be arraigned today on one count of involuntary manslaughter. The charge carries a maximum eight years in prison. 

Matt has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either.

In March 2009, Matt’s sister, Veronica J. Matt, and mother, Juanita A. Garcia, 42, died after the 2003 Chevy Blazer Veronica Matt was driving veered off the road.

Joseph Matt was in the car, along with 25-year-old Dianna Matheson, of Worley, niece of former tribal councilman David Matheson, tribal officials and Idaho State Police said.

Joseph Matt and Diana Matheson also were injured on the road in a crash on Lovell Valley Road in October 2000. The two were passengers in a 1987 Chevy Cavalier that went off the road.

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