[tabi] article from today's Democrat

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2010 20:45:04 -0400

bkblpp@xxxxxxxxx sent you this article.
Here's the article Chip was referring to, I think.
Tallahassee Democrat 08/17/2010, Page A01

Meggs: No criminal charges in fatal crash

By Amanda Curcio 

State Attorney Willie Meggs said Monday he does not plan to file criminal
charges against Melanie F. Humphries for her involvement in a fatal car

Humphries, 30, the wife of a deputy with the Leon County Sheriff's Office,
was the driver in a May 2 twovehicle crash that killed 13-year-old Darrielle
Copeland, a student at Florida High. Humphries was cited for careless
driving and failure to stop at a traffic signal.

LCSO investigated the crash and sent a 176-page report to Meggs'
office on July 1.

"Accidents happen all the time. All of us speed, all of us run red lights,"
Meggs said. "Gross negligence is required to prosecute vehicular homicide.

This case didn't rise to that level."

Frankie Fudge, Darrielle's mother, is frustrated that Humphries isn't facing
more serious charges. She said she intends to file a civil claim.

"Accidents happen all the time?" Fudge said. "Do people always go 21
(mph) over the speed limit, drive through a red light and kill somebody?"

Meggs acknowledged that Fudge's loss is tragic, but said if further charges
were brought against Humphries, 


they would have been dismissed. 

"If I made the charge, it would not have been in good faith, legally or
morally," he said. "(Humphries) being a deputy's wife was not a factor in
the decision." Humphries was traveling north on Capital Circle Southeast
about 2 p.m. when she hit a red Lincoln sedan turning left on Shumard Oaks
Boulevard, according to LCSO Sgt. Lonnie Seay. 

Fudge was driving the Lincoln. Fudge, Darrielle and her 15-year-old brother,
Darryl Copeland, were sent to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with serious
injuries. Darrielle later died. 

According to Florida law, two charges may be filed when a person dies as a
result of a crash: manslaughter, which requires culpable negligence, and
vehicular homicide, which requires recklessness, said George R. Dekle, a
Suwannee County prosecutor and teacher at the University of Florida's law

Dekle said that state attorneys face difficult decisions, such as
determining the potential criminal act in connection with a crash, on a
daily basis. 

"It becomes especially problematic when either a victim or a potential
defendant has some sort of special status, such as being related to a
lawenforcement officer, that can give rise to accusations of favoritism," he
said. "Fear of criticism is a poor reason for filing charges against

According to LCSO's Traffic Homicide investigative report filed July 1,
Humphries sustained a speed of 66 mph, in excess of Capital Circle's 45-mph
speed limit, several seconds prior to the collision.
She drove through a red light, violating the Lincoln's right of way and
causing the crash. There were also no pre-crash skid marks from Humphries'
car, a Chevrolet Tahoe, which would indicate an attempt to stop for the red
light, Seay said. 

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