Rare Jury Verdict Reminds Drivers in New Mexico and Nationwide to Drive Sober

1381283586mxllq morguefile username DodgertonSkillhause.jpgA Bakersfield, California man was recently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder in connection with a fatal traffic collision in a construction zone. 32-year-old Jerad Cross was convicted of killing a 45-year-old Clovis man when he rear-ended his stopped vehicle while under the influence of prescription medication and other drugs. According to authorities, the force of the impact forced the deceased man’s pick-up truck underneath the trailer of a semi-truck.

The local District Attorney’s Office apparently chose to pursue a rare murder charge because Cross was driving on a suspended motor vehicle operator’s license at the time of the collision. Previously, Cross was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding on at least five occasions, and he was allegedly involved in at least three other at-fault crashes. Immediately prior to the deadly accident, Cross purportedly crushed and snorted prescription medication in an effort to increase the effect of the drugs. He also apparently smoked methamphetamine the night before the accident.

At trial, Cross argued he was not guilty of second degree murder because he failed to understand he was endangering others when the wreck occurred. Prosecutors claimed Cross was well aware of the risks because the label on the drugs he took cautions against driving while taking the medication. Following two weeks of testimony, jurors convicted Cross on the murder charge as well as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a vehicle with a suspended driver’s license.

Despite that an allegedly drunk or otherwise impaired motorist may be criminally prosecuted as occurred in this sad case, he or she should also be held financially responsible for the damage that results from a drug or alcohol-related accident. In New Mexico, the victim of a collision that was caused by an impaired driver may be entitled to recover damages for their lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, medical bills, and any temporary or permanent disability. Certain close family members of a person who was killed by an allegedly intoxicated motorist may be eligible to receive additional compensation as well as the expenses associated with their loved one’s funeral. If you were hurt or a loved one was tragically killed by an allegedly intoxicated driver, you are advised to speak with a quality attorney regarding your right to recovery.

Contact the Fine Law Firm if you were injured or lost a family member in a New Mexico automobile wreck. Our hardworking Belen motor vehicle accident lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience helping individuals who were hurt or the close relatives of those killed as a result of another person’s negligent act. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a caring advocate, do not hesitate to give the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico Appeals Court Holds Uninsured Motorist Lawsuit Barred by Claim Preclusion, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 7, 2013
Another Medical Negligence Jury Verdict Issued Against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 26, 2013
Additional Resources:

Man found guilty of murder in fatal crash at Paso construction site, by Patrick S. Pemberton, San Luis Obispo Tribune

Man gets 15 years to life in prison for causing deadly North County crash, by Patrick S. Pemberton, San Luis Obispo Tribune

Photo credit: DodgertonSkillhause, morgueFile