New York Police Officer Andrew Kelly is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated. There is also an investigation into a possible cover-up of his accident when he was off-duty. The defense has now responded by claiming that the victim,Vionique Valnord (33), was drunk and responsible for her own death.
Valnord, the daughter of a Brooklyn pastor, had left a wedding to flag down a taxi when Kelly hit her. A report shows that she was intoxicated at the time.
At the time of the accident, Kelly refused a Breathalyzer but reportedly reeked of alcohol. He is looking at seven years behind bars if convicted.
The allegation against Valnord could make for an interesting trial fight over causation and responsibility. Kelly appears to be arguing that Valnord was the intoxicated person responsible for the accident by stepping into traffic. Drivers are, of course, required to be prepared to stop and to drive at a reasonable speed. However, they are not responsible if someone runs in front of their car. This could leave the jury with two allegedly intoxicated people and the task of pinning the blame on one or both. What if the jury finds both are responsible. This is not a comparative negligence case where damages can be reduced by the plaintiffs’ conduct. If both are responsible, is that sufficient for a beyond a reasonable doubt finding of guilt?
What is clear is that there are going to be some heavy pre-trial motions filed, including fights over proposed jury instructions in this case.
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