Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona manslaughter case discussing the government’s contention that the lower court improperly admitted certain evidence regarding the victim’s conduct in the moments leading up to a fatal traffic accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the victim’s actions were not a superseding cause of the accident, and thus the evidence at issue was not admissible.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving well over the speed limit when he struck the rear-end of another vehicle that was making a left turn. Neither the driver of the other vehicle, nor his seven-month-old son, were properly restrained, and both were ejected from the car. The driver was seriously injured, and his son died. Officers found a marijuana pipe in the car, and the driver later tested positive for THC.
In a pre-trial motion, the prosecution asked the court to prevent the defendant from pursuing a superseding-cause theory and admitting evidence of the victim’s possible impairment. The prosecution also argued that evidence suggesting the victim failed to yield when making the left-turn was admissible, but that, as a matter of law, it was not a superseding cause of the accident.