Driver fires attorney,fatal DUI case continued

The man accused of killing a pedestrian last year while driving under the influence of a mind-altering substance refused to enter a plea this week, continuing the case until Monday.

Judge Calvin Murashige continued the plea hearing after Michael Groves said Tuesday he wanted to hire a new attorney.

Groves was indicted by a grand jury Feb. 16, 2006, for charges of first-degree negligent homicide — a Class-B felony — and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. He also is accused of inattentive driving. If convicted, Groves could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The charges stem from the death of Fredricka Weisenthal, the only pedestrian-vehicle related fatality that occurred on Kaua‘i last year.

Nineteen pedestrian-vehicle related deaths occurred on O‘ahu, compared with six on the Big Island and three on Maui, for a total of 29, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Twenty-eight pedestrian-vehicle fatalities have happened so far this year, statewide, none of which were on Kaua‘i.

Charges in these types of cases depend on several factors, including state of mind and level of intent, Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa said.

For a driver to be convicted of manslaughter, the prosecution would have to show the suspect ignored a substantial and known risk, whereas negligence is a matter of having known better, he said.

The most recent pedestrian-vehicle related fatality in the state was on April 23 in O‘ahu. The victim was a 76-year-old woman.

By law, drivers are required to stop at a marked crosswalk whenever another driver traveling in the same direction in the next lane has stopped for a pedestrian.

• Amanda C. Gregg, assistant editor/staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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