Island Crime Beat: Questions over crash that led to negligent homicide charge

LIHU‘E — When William Corbett’s delivery van crossed into the west- bound lane and struck a car driven by 59-year-old Glenn Doi, it was not immediately suspected to be a criminal case, which is why his defense attorney is presenting strong concerns to the court.

Doi would die later that day from the injuries he sustained in Lawai on the morning of Feb. 11, 2010.

After the collision the two vehicles struck a third car driven by Ashlie Moriguchi. Moriguchi and her passenger were treated for their injuries at Wilcox Memorial Hospital and then released.

It was not until a grand jury indictment in December that William Camm Corbett, 63, of Lihu‘e, was charged with first-degree negligent homicide, and two counts of third-degree assault.

His trial is scheduled for Aug. 20.

On Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court, defense attorney Miles Breiner argued that the prosecution let the case sit for nearly two years until the indictment and arrest.

He said key evidence, including a blood sample taken after the accident, may have since been destroyed.

Judge Kathleen N. A. Watanabe agreed, but denied Breiner’s motion to dismiss for pre-indictment delay. She said that when County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes took over the case, she worked diligently to bring it to the grand jury.

Watanabe denied a second defense motion to dismiss two third-degree assault count charges in the indictment. The charges relate to the injuries sustained by Moriguchi and her passenger.

Breiner said the charge is excessive and lacks the criminal intent required by statute. He said it implies the vehicle was used with intent to cause injury in a criminal act, and would confuse a jury.

Mendes said the negligent injury charge is not exclusive to these charges.

She said the injuries to the two occupants of the third vehicle were not substantial enough for negligent injury and that the assault charges were applied.

A third motion to suppress evidence was also denied. It involved the blood test that was administered to Corbett at the hospital.

Breiner argued that the prosecution used the presence of methamphetamine in that blood test after the fact to bring criminal charges to an accident.

Officer Kaulana Renaud of the Kaua‘i Police Department was called as a responder witness. The officer testified that Corbett did not appear to be impaired at the time, and that it was the medics who placed him on a board and brought him to the hospital.

It was because Corbett was not arrested at the scene, or read his Miranda rights, nor did he give consent prior to a blood test, that Breiner said the statute requirements for probable cause were violated.

Mendes said the surviving driver of the third car observed Corbett’s van cross a double yellow line and collide with the first car before both vehicles struck her own.

The moving violation that resulted in a severe accident causing injury and death was enough to show probable cause under the law for the blood test, she said.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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