Local News

Judge Gives Blackwell Jurors 71 Pages of Law

Posted April 14, 1998

— A Durham jury deliberated for two hours Wednesday after receiving lengthy instruction from the judge. The jury heard closing arguments from attorneys on both sides in the Timothy Blackwell murder trial earlier Wednesday.

Blackwell could get life in prison if he's found guilty of killing 4-year-old Megan Dail while driving drunk.

The judge gave jurors 71 pages of instructions on the law pertaining to this case. Blackwell is only the second person in the state and country to be charged with murder in relation to a drunk driving situation.

Jurors have four choices. They can find Blackwell guilty of first or second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter, or they can find him not guilty. They must also make decisions about four assault charges related to the accident.

In its closing arguments, the defense admitted that Timothy Blackwell struck the minivan in the accident that killed the Dail child. They suggested that he may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Defense attorneys said that, while the accident was a tragedy, Blackwell's actions do not fit the criteria for a murder conviction.

Blackwell watched and listened as his attorneys argued that he is not a murderer.

In order to prove murder, the prosecution must prove that Blackwell used his pickup truck as a deadly weapon to assault the Dail family. The defense says Blackwell did not intentionally hit the family's vehicle.

Prosecutor Jim Hardin says that when Blackwell chose to drink and drive, his truck became a deadly weapon.

Hardin went on to say that there is no evidence that Blackwell's truck had any mechanical problems, and no evidence that anyone besides Blackwell crossed the center line causing that accident in 1997.

The jury will resume its deliberations Thursday morning.

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