The attorney for the trucker who hit a limousine van carrying actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one passenger while injuring four others has asked for criminal charges to be dropped, because he doesn’t believe his client can get a fair trial.
Truck driver Kevin Roper faces criminal charges in New Jersey, including one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto, stemming from the crash that occurred shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday, June 7, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury.
Citing “extensive national media coverage” of both a recent report on the crash issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as of Walmart’s civil settlement with the victims, Roper’s attorney, David J. Glassman told a TV news station, ABC7NY, that his client won’t be able to find an “impartial jury.”
“No system of justice can rightfully call itself just – if it operates in an atmosphere where the state is unwilling to protect the accused who appears before them, prior to a jury trial,” according to court documents cited by the ABC News report. “No accused can receive a fair trial, or any other due process requirements, if the criminal justice system under which an accused is tried leaves him at the mercy of the press.”
The crash ultimately resulted in the death of comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and serious injuries for Morgan and other passengers. The NTSB investigators said the failure of Morgan and other passengers in the limo to wear seat belts contributed to the severity of their injuries when the vehicle was rear-ended by Roper’s tractor-trailer. None of the passengers in the back of the 10-seat limo, nor the driver, were wearing seat belts.
The NTSB report also stated that Roper had been awake for at least 28 hours prior to the crash, the fatigue from which resulted in his delayed braking to avoid traffic that was slowing and stopping in an active work zone.
Immediately before arriving in Delaware for work, Roper had driven more than 800 miles from his home in Georgia to the distribution center, where he reported for duty without rest, the NTSB investigators stated.
The truck was equipped with a Bendix Wingman Active Cruise with Braking system designed to issue a pre-crash audible alert to the driver. Despite the presence of the device, which features forward facing radar that should notify a driver of a stopped vehicle or imminent crash, investigators were unable to find any data on the device indicating that the system warned Roper of the impending crash.
One of the recommendations the NTSB is suggesting is that manufacturers of such systems design them to be capable of storing and retrieving data “in a manner useful to system performance analysis and accident investigation.”
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