Hurst v. State (Unpublished Memo): A woman let one of her teenaged daughter’s friends sit on the front “ranch hand” bumper of a pickup truck as they eased along a country road. The woman got distracted by another kid. When she looked back to the front of the truck, the girl wasn’t there any more. So the woman jerked the truck to the ditch on the side of the road and stopped . Then, instead of getting out of the truck and walking around, she pulled forward out of the ditch, over the teenage girl, killing her.
The woman pled guilty to manslaughter and endangering a child. There was a trial on sentencing. She got seven years probation on the manslaughter and two years in prison on the child endangerment (the max for that charge).
Double Jeopardy: The woman contends that she was tried twice for the same crime – that the manslaughter and child endangerment charges were based on the same conduct. the Tyler court denies this argument. Both charges required something more than the other. Death is required for manslaughter but not for child endangerment. The victim’s age is central to child endangerment but irrelevant to manslaughter.
Hearsay: The child who had (predictably) distracted the woman was her own six year old son. The woman complains about the admission of his statement that: “We didn’t mean to kill Krissi.” But the State didn’t offer that statement to prove the literal truth of what the boy said. Acceptance of responsibility is a legitimate factor in assessing a sentence, and the State was within its rights to present evidence that the woman would put this weight on her own boy rather than carry it herself.
The bereaved mother’s testimony: When the mother of the victim came to the hospital, her anguish was compounded because “they” tried to put her in the same waiting room she had been in five years earlier when her husband died. There was no evidence that “they” included the defendant, so the Tyler court holds that this testimony would not have impermissibly riled the jury up against the defendant. Conviction affirmed.