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Brent O'Neal Back In Court



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Wednesday marked day two of motion hearings for 22-year-old Brent O’Neal. O’Neal is accused of causing a fatal crash due to texting and driving. Police said he was driving down Minnesota Avenue last summer when he ran into three cars and a motorcycle. The man driving the motorcycle, 33-year-old Phillip Sorensen, died later that day.

Wednesday’s hearing was all about trying to convince the judge that the statements O’Neal made in a police car, before he was read his Miranda Rights, shouldn’t be used in trial.

Defense attorney’s argued that even though O’Neal may have said he was texting, there isn’t any other evidence to back that up. Detectives took the stand and said a digital report, taken by a Universal Forensic Extraction Device, or UFED, of O’Neal’s phone show that no calls were made from his cell phone between 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock the day of the accident. Also there were no text messages sent or received between 2 o’clock and after 7:30 p.m.

But state’s attorneys said O’Neal could have erased any text messages before officers seized his phone. And detectives testified that if any texts were erased, the digital report cannot retrieve that data. State’s attorneys also argued that any of the statements made by O’Neal were voluntary.

The judge decided that he needed more time to review the tapes with the statements on them. He said he will provide a written statement of his ruling.

On Tuesday the judge denied a motion made by O’Neal’s defense attorneys that asked him to dismiss the first degree manslaughter charge O’Neal is facing.
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