A bus driver named Ophadell Williams was accused of manslaughter and negligent homicide when he crashed his bus on Interstate 95 last year, killing 15 passengers.  Williams claimed he lost control of the bus because he was cut off by a tractor-trailer.  However during his trial, which started in September, prosecutors accused him of driving while tired and even compared his alleged drowsy driving to driving while intoxicated.  According to a source, “prosecutors portrayed Mr. Williams as being so sleep deprived that his reflexes were affected as if he had been intoxicated.”  Prosecutors even offered his cell phone records to show that he was awake instead of sleeping.

Jury Verdict

On Friday, he was acquitted of manslaughter and negligent homicide.  However, he was found guilty of “aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle,” a misdemeanor charge with a sentence of 30 days at most.  If the jurors had charged him with manslaughter and negligent homicide, he would have faced a harsher sentence.

Manslaughter

A charge for manslaughter varies among states.  Generally, when an individual is charged with first or second-degree murder, their murder charge may be mitigated to manslaughter by showing a defense to murder, such as involuntary intoxication.

Negligent Homicide

In order to be found guilty of negligent homicide, the defendant must negligently cause the death of another.  This means that their conduct must substantially deviate from the standard of ordinary care. An example of negligent homicide is killing someone while driving under the influence.

Do you agree with the jury’s decision to acquit Williams of manslaughter and negligent homicide?