A man is facing serious charges related to the death of a police officer, but his representation is asking the court to consider scaling back the charges, according to local news. The 32-year-old Pennsylvania man is facing accusations of third-degree murder, drunk driving, vehicular homicide while intoxicated and more. His attorney is arguing that the murder charge violates his right to equal protection under the law.
According to the accident report, the accused man was allegedly drunk on May 5 when he was driving the wrong way on Route 30. This resulted in a collision with a police vehicle that killed its driver and injured a K-9 unit that was also in the vehicle. The third-degree murder charge, which has not been applied in any of a further 20 car accident cases, is being applied here because the deceased victim was a police officer.
The man's attorney has argued this violates his client's rights, and is asking the charge be reduced. In addition, he is also asking for a jury panel from outside the country to be brought in, or that the case be moved to another county for trial. He has claimed that this is necessary because of negative publicity surrounding the case within the community. This too, he says, is because the victim was a law-enforcement officer.
Third-degree murder charges require malice on the part of the accused individual. Even if it is proved that the man was drunk driving at the time of the accident, it can be argued that he bore no malice toward the officer who was tragically killed. Of course, it will be up to a Pennsylvania court to determine whether the case is moved to another jurisdiction, a jury from outside the county impaneled or the charges reduced.
Source: lancasteronline.com, "Defense in fatal DUI case seeks lesser charge, trial move", April 2, 2016