LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said Tuesday afternoon that he will not prosecute Lori Reineke on a felony charge of Vehicular Homicide.
Gwinnett County police had initially accused Reineke of distracted driving because, they said, they had evidence from phone records that she was texting at the time she struck and killed a pedestrian, James Eaton III, on October 30, 2009, at an intersection on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
As a result, according to police, she committed felony Vehicular Homicide. The case was the first of its kind in Gwinnett County.
Reineke's attorney insisted Reineke had not been distracted, she had the green light at the intersection, it was dark and raining, and the pedestrian was crossing the intersection against a red light.
In February, police referred the case to District Attorney Porter for possible prosecution.
On Tuesday, Porter responded, by email, to an earlier request from 11Alive News for an update on the case:
"After a great deal of legal research and soul searching, I have decided that the evidence in this case does not rise to the level of 1st Degree Vehicular Homicide since the underlying traffic offence is Driving while Distracted and does not by itself constitute Reckless Driving. I have notified the victim's family and will be preparing the case for transfer to the Solicitor's Office for prosecution as a misdemeanor. I expect to sign the paperwork tomorrow or the next day."
Georgia's texting and driving ban went into effect on July 1. There was no specific law against texting while driving this past October at the time of the collision. So Gwinnett County Police settled on the charge of distracted/reckless driving and, along with that, felony vehicular homicide.
As Porter said in his statement, the Solicitor will now decide whether to prosecute Reineke on a misdemeanor charge related to the accident.
Link: 11Alive.com, February 11, 2010