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Court of Appeals Affirms Vehicular Homicide Conviction despite reasonable alternative theory on circumstantial evidence

Shy v. State, A10A1696, Georgia Court of Appeals, March 29, 2011.Vehicular Homicide, 1st Degree; Reckless Driving; Failure to Maintain Lane, and Driving with a Suspended License. The city of Atlanta, Fulton County Superior Court Jury Trial.

The driver struck Husband and Wife pulled over in the emergency lane of I-285 with a broken-down car killing both. The Defendant Driver appealed arguing that he was prejudiced by evidence of similar transactions; the Court’s charge on similar transactions was overly broad, allowing consideration of the evidence for an improper purpose and prejudicial; Sentencing sheet with similar transactions was not proper, and insufficient circumstantial evidence to convict of DUI.  The Georgia Court of Appeals found that the similar transaction evidence was proper as all DUI offenses are related enough for similar transaction purposes, the similar transaction charge only instructed the jury to consider the similar transaction evidence for the bent of mind and course of conduct and not any element of the DUI offense, and the Defendant driver did not preserve the issue of the sentencing sheet for appeal by not objecting at trial.  The Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict of reckless driving because the jury rejected his alternative theory of heat exhaustion and dehydration and so the Court of Appeals must have found that this means the alternative theory was not reasonable.

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