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Missing evidence hinders defense in OWI homicide case: Part I

Last week, proceedings began in a controversial drunk driving case. A Wisconsin man has been charged with two counts of homicide by drunken driving. The victims of the crash were his 40-year-old wife and his 12-year-old daughter. His son, who was 9 at the time, survived the crash.

This case is controversial because the defense will present an equally believable explanation for the crash that doesn't involve drunk driving. However, it may be hard to present that defense because the prosecution has either lost or destroyed key evidence.

In October of 2009, the Wisconsin man was driving his family home from a party near Lake Dubay. The prosecution alleges that the man drank for more than five hours while at this party.

The accident occurred after the man lost control of his SUV on Interstate 39. His wife and daughter were killed in the crash. According to prosecutors, a blood test performed three hours after the crash showed that the defendant had a BAC of 0.10 percent.

According to police who responded to the accident, the scene smelled of alcohol. They also allegedly found beer cans on the highway near the vehicle. One EMT reported that the defendant told his son "don't tell them anything," as the boy was being put into an ambulance.

Based solely on this evidence, it may initially seem like an obvious case of DUI homicide. However, defense attorneys say there is a much better explanation: the crash was caused by the driver's medical condition. But the missing or destroyed evidence could make this defense much more difficult.

Check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: Wausau Daily Herald, "Evidence missing in OWI suspect's trial," Jeff Starck, Aug. 18, 2011

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