Sioux Falls Drunk Driver Asks For New Trial
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
October 02, 2012 5:43 PM
In July of 2010, Tammy Kvasnicka drove drunk on the wrong side of interstate 229, slammed into an on coming car with 5 people in it, and killed one of them.
Kvasnicka was found not guilty on two counts of manslaughter while engaged in the commission of a felony.
But she was found guilty of manslaughter in the first degree and sentenced to 70 years in prison. But an appeal to that ruling has her case in the South Dakota Supreme Court.
During the trial one officer compared the force of the crash to 9 hundred pistols being fired at once.
“The comparison of my clients vehicles to 902 40 caliber glock pistols, pointed at the victims in this case, was so inflammatory that it distracted the jury from what their job was,” said Nicole Laughlin, a Minnehaha County public defender.
“For the jury that has to translate what happened that night on the interstate to manslaughter in the first degree with a dangerous weapon. It gives them idea of the force that is associated with this dangerous weapon which is essentially the victim's car,” said Ann Meyer, an assistant attorney general.
“He did testify that he could have plugged in any innocuous item. He could have used golf balls, baseballs, tennis shoes, or teddy bears. But, he didn’t. He used glock handguns,” said Laughlin.
The validity of the information was also in question. When Kvasnicka's attorney pointed out that some information about the force of the crash used for the case was taken from Wikipedia.
“That information was not what (the officer) used at trial, that was provided to him by another officer,” said Meyer.
The state's attorney's feels Kvasnicka has already succeeded by not being found guilty of all charges.
“If you are acquitted of charges that means that defense has prevailed and it means that she won,” said Meyer.
“It's not fair. And it's not me that says it's not fair. It’s the constitution that says that Ms. Kvasnicka had the right to have a fair trial. She was unduly prejudiced in this case. The prejudice was cumulative and we ask this court to reverse the remand for a new trial,” said Laughlin.
Vehicular homicide comes with a sentence of about 15 years in prison.
It was Kvasnicka's 3rd DUI at the time of crash.