Blackwell May Receive New Trial On Technicality
Posted December 6, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Timothy Blackwell, the second person in the nation to be convicted of murder in a drunk driving case, could get a new trial.
On Tuesday, in a split decision, the state appeals court ruled that prosecutors wrongly used evidence from a drunk driving plea agreement to get the conviction.
The technicality reopens a landmark case in the Triangle not to mention old wounds for the victim's family.
In February of 1997, the Dail family watched Timothy Blackwell, a habitual drunk driver, crossed the center line and slammed into their mini-van. The crash killed their 4-year-old daughter, Megan.
In April of 1998, emotions spilled out for the Dails as a jury convicted Blackwell of first degree murder. Now, the state appeals court may make the family live through it all over again.
Michael Hale Gray ofMothers Against Drunk Drivingsays the Dails are disappointed, but not overly shocked by the court decision. They sat through the appeals process.
"It's still sinking in a little bit just the fact that it brings up all the old wounds is the best way I can explain it," Gray said. "They really thought this thing had passed and tried to do other things with their lives, and suddenly this thing comes and hits them in the face at this time of year especially."
"They realize logically that Tim Blackwell needs as best a case as he can do," Gray said. "It's part of our judicial system. But, at the same time, they wanted to put this thing to bed."
The case will likely go the state Supreme Court.
If the high court upholds the appeal, the case will be sent back to the Durham County District Attorney who will have to make a call on whether to retry Blackwell.
Blackwell remains in prison because he pleaded guilty to a long list of drunk driving charges. -->