An Orange County, California jury deadlocked today, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial in the distracted driving case against a 31-year-old driver who was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in an April 2011 accident that killed 23-year-old Deanna Mauer on the 405 Freeway. After 16 hours of deliberations, the twelve member jury could not reach a verdict. Eleven of the twelve jurors voted to convict Nicolas, while a lone juror was not convinced of her guilt. Pending a new trial, Nicolas was not convicted of distracted driving. Maine distracted driving attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing know that trials like these cause pain and suffering to the families of the victims, especially when a verdict is not reached.
During the trial, the facts of this distracted driving case rocked the community and caused Mauer’s family to relive the events that led to their daughter’s tragic death. Prosecutors alleged that Jorene Nicolas was driving approximately 80 mph when she slammed into the back of Mauer’s vehicle. The reason Nicolas didn’t notice traffic had come to a complete stop on the busy freeway? Prosecutors say that Nicolas was texting while driving, and was so distracted by her cell phone that she didn’t notice that traffic had come to a complete and total standstill in front of her.
The facts Nicolas presented were very different than the picture painted by the prosecution. Nicolas testified that Mauer’s white Hyundai “came out of nowhere”, and disagreed with prosecutors that she hit the back of Mauer’s car. Nichols also claimed that when Mauer’s car “came out of nowhere”, she veered to the left and saw the victim hit the center divider. Nicolas’ defense attorney also suggested that Mauer swerved in front of his client and that Mauer’s brake lights weren’t working or that she didn’t apply them before the crash.
Mauer, a star pitcher at San Jose State University, did not survive the accident with Nicolas. Her vehicle careened into the center divider and her injuries proved fatal. Accident investigators were not able to prove that Nicolas was texting while driving.
There were concerns in this case that jurors behaved inappropriately. Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker believes that one juror may have tried to use physics formulas to evaluate testimony, while another juror may have brought in a magnifying glass to examine the evidence. She has asked the judge for a new trial setting conference on May 16.
Despite the deadlocked jury, prosecutors, along with Mauer’s grieving family, are convinced that distracted driving led to their daughter’s untimely death. In the aftermath of their daughter’s tragic death, Mauer’s family wants to spread the word and help save a life. They urge drivers to put down their cell phones. Distracted driving took the life of their daughter, and they hope her death can serve as an example of the senseless danger of distracted driving. Distracted driving claims more than 3,000 lives a year, and injures more than 387,000 people per year. If there is anything to be learned from this tragic case, it is that distracted driving is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
In a distracted driving case, it is vital to have experienced attorneys, credible expert witnesses and accurate accident reconstruction. Experienced Maine personal injury compensation attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have successfully litigated many Maine distracted driving cases, and have been voted the Best Online Attorneys in 2014 because of our extensive experience as Maine distracted driving attorneys.
Maine distracted driving attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in an accident or has been involved in a crash as a result of distracted driving and would like a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.