Is the life of a police officer killed in the line of duty worth more than someone who is NOT an officer?
That is the central issue in a criminal case just outside of Pittsburgh Pa.
A Ligonier man is accused of driving drunk and killing a police officer in a head-on, wrong-way crash.
The defense contends he was improperly charged with third-degree murder JUST because the victim was a police officer.
Clair Eugene Fink III, 32, is charged with third-degree murder and homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in connection with the May 2 death of Ligonier Township police Lt. Eric Eslary, 40.
Police said Fink had marijuana in his system and a blood-alcohol content of 0.197 percent, more than twice the 0.08 percent level at which a person is considered intoxicated in Pennsylvania, when his van slammed into Eslary’s patrol vehicle.
Fink, following a night of heavy drinking, was driving east in the westbound lanes of Route 30 at 2 a.m. for several miles before colliding with the police vehicle.
Eslary died and his K-9 officer, Blek, was injured.
In a pretrial motion filed Friday, Fink’s attorney is seeking a dismissal of the third-degree homicide charge.
The defense contends it violates Fink’s rights to equal protection under the law, arguing prosecutors chose “to enhance” the charge only because Eslary was a police officer.
Fink is the first criminal defendant since 2010 to face a charge of third-degree murder in a DUI-related death in Westmoreland County,
In more than 20 other vehicular homicide cases, none of the defendants was similarly charged.
“The defendant believes … the commonwealth has chosen to enhance the charges and potential penalties against him … solely because the decedent in this matter is a police officer,” the defense argued.
The third-degree murder charge may also be improper because there is no evidence of malice on Fink’s part.
Although prosecutors contend Fink’s conduct was malicious in that he kept driving the wrong way while drunk, even after crashing his vehicle, the defense argues they can’t prove “any recklessness in this episode rises to the level required to establish malice.”
Fink remains in the Westmoreland County Prison without bond.
Well there you have it.
The prosecutor ramps up the charges against the defendant who kills a police officer in the line of duty.
Pittsburgh wrongful death, Medical malpractice, slip and fall, car accident and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully wonders why this defendant was charged with a more serious crime than someone who did the same thing to a non officer.
They’re really doesn’t seem to be any other explanation offered as to why the prosecution decided to increase the criminal charges against the defendant.
Again Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, car accident attorney and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully just wonders if you agree with the decision of the prosecutor.
And why or why not?
Thanks for reading.
Bernie the attorney.