The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling today to clarify how fatal accidents that involve alcohol should be handled. The case involves a December 2006 accident where Jonathan Adams of Des Moines struck and killed bicyclist Tina Marie Brown after attending a beer drinking party at a friend’s house.
Testimony showed that a headlight was out on his car at the time of the accident, and that he said he was looking down and adjusting the radio. Adams left the scene and did not report the accident, so his blood alcohol was not able to be tested. He was later convicted of homicide by vehicle, operating while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident.
He appealed the conviction, and the appeals court upheld the homicide ruling, but threw out the O-W-I verdict. The Supreme Court was then asked to rule on the connection between alcohol and the murder charge. The high court ruled that the state must prove Adams’ drunken driving led directly to the death of the bicyclist to sustain the homicide by vehicle conviction.
But the Supreme Court said it could not conclude from the record whether Adam’s attorney was ineffective in failing to raise the drunk diving issue, and it let the homicide conviction stand.
The ruling now allows Adams to consider an appeal of the conviction based on his lawyer being ineffective for not raising the alcohol issue.
See the complete ruling here: Adams Ruling PDF