The Wal-mart trucker involved in last year’s deadly crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that severely injured SNL alumni and comedian Tracy Morgan has been indicted on criminal charges.
The driver, Kevin Roper, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide as well as eight counts of aggravated assault.
In early-June 2014, authorities say he crashed his 18-wheeler into Morgan’s limo fan, killing his friend and fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. The crash left Morgan in a coma for two week, and he also suffered multiple broken bones and serious brain injury.
Trucker’s Attorney: “My client’s rights have been compromised.”
Roper’s attorney, David Jay Glassman, recently told CNN that the prosecutor in the case has corrupted his client’s right to due process and doubts that the indictment will stand.
The prosecutor “ran out of opportunities to corrupt the defendant’s right to due process and finally elected to present the matter to the grand jury which surprisingly after over a year of continuous negative publicity, returned an indictment,” Glassman stated.
Morgan and some of the others who were injured reached a settlement with Wal-Mart in May, although terms have not been made public.
NTSB Investigation Results
Federal investigators found that the injuries to Morgan and other passengers were made worse by their failure to wear seat belts. The board faulted Morgan and other passengers for also adjusting headrests.
An NTSB investigation concluded in August that Roper hadn’t slept in the 28 hours before the crash, a finding Roper’s attorney has disputed.
The report also determined that Glassman’s client failed to slow down immediately before the crash despite posted warning signs on the turnpike.
Roper’s attorney recently told The Associated Press he will ask a judge in Middlesex County, New Jersey to dismiss the case because his client is unable to get a fair trial because of negative publicity surrounding Morgan’s federal lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
If convicted, Roper can face up to 30 years for the aggravated manslaughter charge alone, while a death-by-auto charge carries a five-to-10-year prison sentence. Each assault-by-auto charge is punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
We disagree with Glassman’s attempt to dismiss the case due to the “negative publicity” it’s received and its “high-profile nature.” A judge and jury will view this case no differently than any other criminal case—no matter who the key players are involved, celebrity or not. At the end of the day, the evidence will speak for itself. If, in fact, the prosecution can prove Roper hadn’t slept in 28 hours and was also speeding, he should be held criminally responsible and face the consequences.