Driver charged with murder!



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In an emotional end to a complicated trial, Carnell Fitzpatrick was found
guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in a case Cook County prosecutors have
called the first local incident of road rage in which a bicyclist was killed
by an angry driver intent on seeking revenge for a minor traffic dispute.

"When you have a three-ton vehicle and maybe a 20-pound bicycle, that is no
even match," Assistant State's Atty. Lynda Peters said moments after the
verdict. "It's very skewed."

The verdict came after a Cook County jury had deliberated for more than 16
hours over two days. During that time, they had sent the judge a note asking
for legal clarification about the definition of reckless homicide. The jury
had been given the option of convicting Fitzpatrick on the lesser charge.
They also were allowed to view for a second time a videotaped statement
given by an eyewitness to the April 26, 1999, accident that left bike
messenger Tom McBride, 26, dead.

Fitzpatrick, 31, faces 20 to 60 years in prison. He had been out of jail on
bond throughout the five-day trial but was taken into custody after the
ruling. He sobbed as sheriff's deputies led him from the courtroom.

In the courtroom gallery, emotions were high on both sides of the aisle.
Before the verdict was announced, a half dozen courthouse deputies came into
the room, standing in the center of the room, between those who were there
in support of Fitzpatrick and those who were family, friends and former
colleagues of McBride.

When the verdict came, Fitzpatrick's wife screamed and ran from the room.
Her sobs could still be heard inside the courtroom as Judge Kenneth J. Wadas
polled the jury.

In the front row, Robert McBride, the victim's father, quietly shook and
cried. His wife, Mary Ellen, leaned against a son, tears running down her
cheeks.

"We're grateful for them," Mary Ellen McBride said of the state's attorney's
office as she left the courtroom. "They put on an outstanding case."

One of the primary elements of the trial had been the eyewitness testimony
of Jerry Carter III, a Chicago man who had been jogging near the scene of
the accident in the 5300 block of West Washington Boulevard.

During pretrial motions, Carter had refused to testify about what he had
told police and later a grand jury: that he had seen Fitzpatrick
deliberately run down McBride after the cyclist shouted curse words during a
near-collision. He had also refused to testify during the trial and had done
so under orders of the judge, recanting what he had earlier told
authorities.

Carter had claimed he had been threatened to not testify and had warned
prosecutors that he would lie on the stand. Peters, one of the two
prosecutors, said after the trial that the state's attorney's office has no
plans to pursue perjury charges against Carter.

Throughout much of the trial, the courtroom was packed with Chicago-area
bike messengers and sport cyclists. After the verdict, George Christensen
broke down as he talked about McBride, a Chicago bike messenger for seven
years with whom Christensen had worked for many years.

"My toughest day of messengering--through extreme cold, extreme heat,
whatever--was the day after he was killed," Christensen said in the hallway
outside Courtroom 301. "I could really feel his presence that day."

Christensen said he hoped the verdict would send a signal to drivers that
"vehicles are murder weapons." He added that he thought the trial's outcome
would give "bicyclists a little insurance that the law is on their side."

"It could have happened to any of us," he said. "We've all had these
confrontations."

Fitzpatrick's lawyer, veteran defense attorney Sam Adam, declined to comment
on the verdict.

Fitzpatrick, who was transported to the Cook County Jail, is due back in
court on Jan. 15 for post-trial motions and possibly sentencing.
 
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The same sort of thing happened here 8 or 9 months ago. I doubt the driver will have been charged with murder tho ::) even though he should have been
 
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We've had two similar tradgedies within the past year or so.
One was a hit and run, Scoresby Rd., Melbourne. The driver has not been found, afaik. The cyclist had just started a new job. His wife occassionally puts up placards on the trees beside the road, appealing for public help, and attempting to appeal to the driver's conscience. Very sad.

The other was in Adelaide. The cyclist had two rear lights, but the driver still managed to drag the bike, underneath, for quite some distance. He eventually came forward and gave himself up. I've not heard any more since.
 
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We've had two similar tradgedies within the past year or so.
One was a hit and run, Scoresby Rd., Melbourne. The driver has not been found, afaik.  The cyclist had just started a new job. His wife occassionally puts up placards on the trees beside the road, appealing for public help, and attempting to appeal to the driver's conscience.  Very sad.

The other was in Adelaide. The cyclist had two rear lights, but the driver still managed to drag the bike, underneath, for quite some distance. He eventually came forward and gave himself up. I've not heard any more since.

Willie I clearly remember both these cases :mad: Do you knows whats happened to the Adelaide driver?

cheers!
 
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Hi. No, I've heard nothing since. The driver was probably remanded on bail. Time lag could be anything from 3 - 6 months, before the case comes up. I'll ask a friend in Adelaide, and post back later.
 
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I've checked the 'Adelaide Advertiser', but found nothing on this topic. (There is a charge for achival searches). Looks like we'll have to wait. I'll check other newspapers later.

Despite our local council installing traffic-calming islands at many of our local intersections, I still have close shaves with cars. Yesterday it was a P plater, failed to give way and pulled out in front. He had a mobile phone up to his ear. What a pity the new anti-Road Rage laws probably also apply to cyclists.
 

Vo2

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In SA, it's illegal to use a mobile whilst driving. Needless to say, 100's of people ignore the law! :mad:
 
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Bit of an update on the case willie mentioned;

An Adelaide man who allegedly caused the death of a cyclist after dragging him 6 kilometres underneath his car and leaving him on the roadside to die, has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and dangerous driving. He also has chosen to have his trial only heard by a judge, with no jury present.

31 year old Andrew John Priestley was heard yesterday by Adelaide's Supreme Court in relation to the death of 38 year old Andrew Watkins on June 22, 2001. Mr Watkins was riding home from work when he was hit by a car on Stebonheath Rd, Munno Para West. He died on Winzor Rd, Hillier after being dragged 6 kilometres.
 
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Just in case anyone didn't know, Carnell Fitzpatrick got 45 years. We need a decision like this in Australia pronto.
 

dutchy

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May 22, 2002
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Hi everyone.

The driver was charged with 7 driving offences, including manslaughter. It was reported yesterday that he has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by dangerous driving which carries a maximum penalty of 11 years.

He has been in custody since the "accident".

I don't know why the lawyers haven't gone for the manslaughter charge. It is an open and shut case.

He hit the cyclist, dragged him for 6km, swerved over the road to dislodge him, then gets out of the car to do so, then keeps on driving.

When the police found the car, there was a new side mirror sitting in the passengers seat waiting to be installed!

It made the news on page 24 of the advertiser. Obviously not news worthy enough to make the front page.

CHEERS.


Mark
 
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He pulled him out from under the car after 6KM? His body would have been in terrible shape, no doubt he would have died by that time, but to be able to have the stomach to pull out someone who probably would have horrific injuries and to drive off would take something special, for lack of a better word.

No wonder he ended up coming forward, imagine living the rest of your life with something like that hanging over you.

But, these things really suck... how many deaths will it take the government to notice that they need to build DECENT bike paths and road shoulders.

Hopefully there will not be a next, but unfortunately I know there will be.

May all the cyclists who have died on the roads, REST IN PEACE.
 
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He pulled him out from under the car after 6KM? His body would have been in terrible shape, no doubt he would have died by that time, but to be able to have the stomach to pull out someone who probably would have horrific injuries and to drive off would take something special, for lack of a better word.

He was alive believe it or not  :mad:

The only type of road safety our Gov is worried about is, catching people doing 103kph in 100kph zones. They dont give a stuff if you kill someone, are un licensed, cars unroadworthy, whether you're dunk or drugged. You see they make alot of money off the speed thing, all the other issues (including bike safety) cost them. IMO they trade in death.

So in short, no there wont be any education programs, no new laws. Our roads are full of drivers who can't even cope with basic skills like indicating, parking, staying within their lane or the correct lane etc..... what hope does a cyclist have?  ???

cheers!
 
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THATS EXACTLY IT STEVE!

If they didn't book people for going 3KM/hr over the limit I think there would be a lot less accidents. Often I find myself when driving taking more care of my speedo than the road.

If they make it like what it used to be when you had to be I think 9KM/hr, everyone would be able to keep their eyes on the road, but then the government would make less money, and we would have to pay up for it somewhere else.
 

dimboy2

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In SA, it's illegal to use a mobile whilst driving. Needless to say, 100's of people ignore the law! :mad:

Same thing happens in the UK talking on the phone is illegal still people do it! Just think chatting to your friends could kill someone.
 
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If they make it like what it used to be when you had to be I think 9KM/hr, everyone would be able to keep their eyes on the road, but then the government would make less money, and we would have to pay up for it somewhere else.

I'm sorry I cannot agree. Here on the Gold Coast, NOBODY follows the speed limit. As a consequence I find it far more dangerous than somewhere like Brisbane, which has a higher traffic density but slower drivers (by something like 15km/h on average). In the real world, people don't watch the road just because they know speed limits won't be enforced.

Having seen the way people carry on around here, I would favour zero tolerance and a fascist police state in enforcing ALL road rules. I see a lot of drivers crashing into things simply because they drive too fast to control their vehicles.

And why are people so obsessed with speed anyway? Seems to me if you've gotta be somewhere at a certain time, the easy (and less stressful solution) is to just leave 5 minutes earlier. I think the time has come for the "Drive defensively or don't drive at all" principle to be adopted.
 
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I'm not talking about letting people doing 75 or so in a 60 zone.

I honestly can't fathom the thought that doing either 63KM/hr or 68KM/hr is going to make much difference in whether or not you'll be involved in a crash.

I agree that people that exceed the speed limit excessively (15KM/hr) should have the book thrown at them. Although people going 3KM/hr over the limit - the cops shouldn't even waste their time pulling them over.
 
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I honestly can't fathom the thought that doing either 63KM/hr or 68KM/hr is going to make much difference in whether or not you'll be involved in a crash.

The problem comes when people claim "I was doing 68 but my speedo wasn't working properly" or some other form of ****. As far as I'm concerned, if the speed limit is 60km/h, that should mean 60km/h. A line has to be drawn somewhere. If it's reasonably safe to go at 68km/h, that should be the speed limit.

In anycase, the incidents described in this thread had nothing to do with speeding as far as I'm concerned. They were deliberate assaults, which brings me to another point. Why is it (in this country at least) that assaults are regarded with less severity if a car is the weapon than if a gun is the weapon? Either one can be fatal.
 

Eldron

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Jan 24, 2002
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From Cycling Weekly (UK cycling magazine).

As best I can remember....

Off duty policeman killed by an unlicensed driver speeding on the wrong side of the road. The justice? A 2 month ban from driing and a £1000 fine.

Lady cyclist got killed when a truck's wing mirror hit her on the back of the head. The justice? £140 fine and no ban.

In a country where human rights are valued so highly I thought the HUMAN would mean a bit more....

Stealing a mobile phone in the UK carries a stiffer sentence than killing a cyclist....go figure.....