Man Accused Of Killing Six In Raleigh Accident Had .18 Percent Blood Alcohol Level
Posted November 19, 2003 4:38 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Six Good Samaritans died and two others were injured when they were run over by a van while assisting with an earlier car accident at the intersection of Nowell and Chapel Hill roads in Raleigh. Authorities say Larry Veeder, who was driving the van, had a blood-alcohol level of .18 percent -- more than twice the state legal limit.
Veeder is charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, which carry no mandatory jail time. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said while the crash that killed them is tragic, it does not rise to the level of murder.
"Involuntary manslaughter is criminal negligence and second-degree murder is malice in addition to negligence," Willoughby said.
Officials said the legal standard to prove malice in a drunken driving case is high. It involves factors like high speed, reckless driving or a history of drunken driving. Second-degree murder is an unusual charge in drunken driving deaths, but not out of the question.
A Wayne County man pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder in the drunken driving deaths of a New Bern couple. A Durham jury convicted Timothy Blackwell of second-degree murder earlier this year in the drunken driving death of 4-year-old Megan Dail. Police charged a Raleigh man with second-degree murder in 2001 after they say he killed a local tailor in the parking lot of Crabtree Valley Mall.
Willoughby said despite the death toll, the Veeder case does not meet the standard for second-degree murder.
"Our job is to look at the evidence and see what charge is appropriate, not just the outcome," he said.
Several of the victims' family members told WRAL that they were not surprised by Veeder's blood-alcohol level, but they are suprised that the charges are not more serious. Veeder's next court appearance is scheduled for Monday.