A state appeals court reduced the conviction of a commercial truck driver who killed two Manhattan pedestrians while off his epilepsy medication. According to the New York Law Journal, the ruling cited as precedent a recent decision by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, which prosecutors feared would make it more difficult to bring cases against motorists who kill people.
Auvryn Scarlett had a seizure while driving a garbage truck on W. 35th Street in February 2008, causing the truck to jump the curb and fatally strike British tourists Jacqueline Timmins and Andrew Hardie. A third pedestrian was seriously injured. In a rare instance of a sober New York City driver charged criminally for a fatal crash, Scarlett was convicted of murder and assault.
The BBC covered the trial:
Summing up the prosecution case at New York Supreme Court, assistant district attorney Chris Ryan said Scarlett had shown a complete disregard for the safety of others.
Driving six days a week for the refuse haulage company, he knew he could have a seizure at any time “on some of the busiest streets on earth.”
He said: “It is like playing a game of Russian roulette, only instead of pointing the gun at yourself, you point it at other people. And if someone dies — that is murder.”
Prosecutors said Scarlett stopped taking his medication two weeks before the crash and did not tell his employer or the DMV he had epilepsy. At sentencing, according to the Law Journal, the judge said Scarlett stopped taking his medication because it “interfered with [his] enjoyment of liquor.”
Last week the Appellate Division, First Department of the state Supreme Court reduced Scarlett’s murder conviction to manslaughter and his first degree assault conviction to second degree assault.