High profile cases can make it difficult for defendants to receive a fair trial. In these cases, defense attorneys must be careful to keep the focus on the facts of the case and build the best possible defense for the client.
William Wilson Heaton Jr. was recently indicted on six counts of serious injury by vehicle and single counts of DUI. After a motion was denied, key evidence will be allowed to remain in the case.
Heaton was charged after leaving the scene of a drunk driving accident. The February 2013 accident occurred when Heaton struck a female pedestrian while she walking home. Since the accident, the victim has been on a feeding tube and unable to walk. She suffered severe brain damage as well.
The evidence in question was allegedly removed from Heaton's car without a warrant. Police discovered his truck parked at an apartment complex with an open bottle of liquor in the cab and empty beer cans in the bed. Heaton also wanted to suppress the evidence obtained from a warrantless search of his friend's cellphone. Heaton was unsuccessful on all his motions.
A hearing is scheduled to determine the validity of police officer's assessment of his alcohol level. Heaton did not surrender until two weeks after the accident. Therefore a blood alcohol level was never taken on the night of the accident. His level of toxicity was estimated from video taken at the bar on the night of the accident.
This case will continue to unfold in future weeks. Heaton faces serious charges that could negatively impact his life. Anyone facing these and other DUI charges should understand their defense options. This often means educating themselves on their rights. If there was an error in the search and seizure process or evidence was unlawfully obtained, this information could help the defendant's defense.
A DUI can carry serious penalties, especially if it includes an accident. Because the life of the defendant could be severely impacted, action should be taken right away in order to reduce the consequences that could result. Devising a strong defense could help the defendant reduce or dismiss the charges against them.
Source: onlineathens.com, "Defendant in Emily Bowman hit-and-run loses bid to suppress evidence," Joe Johnson, Sep. 1, 2014