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Missing evidence hinders defense in OWI homicide case: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about a controversial case of alleged drunk driving homicide. A Wisconsin man is on trial for the 2009 drunk-driving deaths of his wife and daughter.

Prosecutors allege that the defendant's blood test revealed a BAC of 0.10 percent three hours after the crash. They also allege that police discovered empty beer cans near the scene of the accident. On the night of the crash, the man had been driving his family home from a party where alcohol was served.

On the surface, it seems to be an open-and-shut case. However, the defense is prepared to offer an equally valid explanation for the crash. Defense attorneys say that the crash was caused by the defendant's medical condition. He has diabetes and was reportedly suffering from low blood sugar at the time.

His attorneys also argue that this is why he became combative when police tried to arrest him that night. Three medical incidents which occurred between 2001 and 2002 resulted in similar experiences and behaviors.

Furthermore, the defense contends that the results of the man's blood test were incorrect. Unfortunately, they cannot retest the sample because it was destroyed in May, several months before the pending trial.

The defense has also been impeded by other missing evidence as well. For instance, the beer cans which were allegedly found at the scene have been lost. Video camera footage from a squad car has been corrupted and the sound is now missing.

Was this intentional corruption of evidence or simply ineptitude and shoddy police work? In either case, it speaks poorly of law enforcement and the prosecution. The defendant's attorney says that they plan to mount a vigorous defense despite the missing evidence.

He adds: "The truth leaves traces behind, and they all can't be erased."

The defense will offer expert testimony to challenge the results of the missing blood test. Witnesses from the party as well as a first responder will testify that the defendant did not appear to be drunk on the night of the crash.

Hopefully, this will be enough to convince jurors that this husband and father would not willingly endanger his family by driving drunk. As for the prosecution, they should not be allowed to build a case on missing and corrupted evidence.

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

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