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Cedar Rapids woman faces vehicular homicide charge

A 21-year-old Cedar Rapids woman is facing a very serious criminal charge arising out of a fatal car accident that occurred a year ago on Interstate 80 in the Coralville area. The woman has been charged with vehicular homicide by reckless driving, a Class C felony. If convicted, the woman faces up to 10 years in a state prison.

The crash occurred in the afternoon of January 24, 2016. The Iowa State Patrol said the woman rear-ended a vehicle driven by a 54-year-old Swisher woman. According to the State Patrol, the impact propelled the victim's vehicle into another lane, where it collided with a tractor-trailer truck, killing the victim.

According to prosecutors, the defendant was using her cellphone at the time of the accident. Prosecutors also claim she was speeding and following the victim's vehicle too closely.

Vehicular homicide charges carry very serious consequences in Iowa. As in any criminal case, however, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has the legal right to an attorney and the right to confront and cross-examine the state's witnesses at trial.

Those facing vehicular homicide charges may need to develop a defense strategy focused on discrediting the prosecution's case. In a case alleging reckless driving, the defense can attack the state's evidence of reckless conduct and challenge the prosecution's claim that any alleged recklessness by the defendant was the cause of the fatal crash. If the defense can persuade the jury that reasonable doubt exists as to any essential element of the prosecution's case, the defendant should be acquitted.

Source: The Gazette, "Cedar Rapids woman charged with vehicular homicide in January 2016 crash," Lee Hermiston, Jan. 3, 2017

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

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