Law enforcement officials say that a man participating in an illegal drag race is responsible for a crash that resulted in the deaths of four people and injuries to several others. The accident occurred on the evening of July 12 in Middlesex, North Carolina. According to a spokesperson with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the defendant has since been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the accident.
Initial reports suggest that the defendant was engaged in a drag race with another car when he allegedly lost control of his 1989 Ford Mustang and plowed into a group of spectators. Police have not identified the other driver who reportedly fled the scene of the accident. First responders found seven victims lying on the ground near the site of the accident. Three of those victims did not survive the accident and another later died from their injuries. A fifth victim is currently listed as in critical condition while the other two remaining victims were listed as in fair condition.
A resident living near the intersection of the two country roads where the accident occurred said that drag racers have previously held similar racing competitions near that same site. According to that resident, drag racers and spectators have gathered there about twice a month over the last year. Prosecutors are expected to add an additional second-degree murder charge against the 37-year-old defendant in light of the fourth victim's subsequent death from his injuries.
North Carolina defendants facing homicide or murder charges often have to contend with popular public opinions. This is because the news media sensationalize many of these types of crimes. This could make it extremely difficult for you if you are a defendant seeking an impartial jury. However, you have a right to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney with experience in North Carolina's criminal courts can request a change of venue in situations where it may be impossible to receive an unbiased trial. An attorney can also negotiate with prosecutors in some cases and receive reduce punishments in exchange for his or her client's guilty pleas.
Source: ABC News, "4 Killed in Apparent Drag Race; Driver Charged With Murder," Jonathan Drew, Associated Press, July 13, 2015