I'm getting really tired of idiots getting off
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Thread: I'm getting really tired of idiots getting off

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Default I'm getting really tired of idiots getting off

    On or about June 22, 2002 there was an accident involving a van owned by Armadillo Express and driven by Gary Butler and several motorcycles on U.S. Route 30 near Chelsea, IA in Tama county. In this accident three of the motorcyclists suffered fatal injuries and two others were seriously injured. This was a group of six, riding in staggered formation. The three fatalites were riding nearest the center line. The two injured were in the second and third positions of the line riding nearest the right side of the road. The second rider in the group (first in the line on the right side of the lane) was not physically injured.

    On Friday April 25th, 2003 a grand jury was convened. In my opinion this was done because ABATE members here would not let this be swept under the rug. The county attorney seemed hesitant or at the very least unsure as to what charges to bring. The deadline for bringing charges was one year from the date of the accident.

    A grand jury decided to charge Butler with three counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of serious injury by vehicle. The company was charged with an additional three counts of involuntary manslaughter. The following comment on the situation was written by Wayne Wierson, the only member of that group of 6 riders to escape physically unharmed.

    "The Tama County Grand Jury on Friday brought 3 counts of Homicide by Vehicle, 3 counts of Felonious involuntary Manslaughter, 3 counts of Aggravated involuntary manslaughter, and 2 counts of serious injury by vehicle. An 11 count indictment. They also indicted the van company of 3 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

    This was to be filed yesterday 5/6/03. I was to wait until this week to start informing people. I guess there were 2 truck drivers on the Grand Jury that thought this dipstick should abide by
    the same rules and regulations that they do! Gee ya think! It was a very diverse group age-wise and I'm sure that for some this was there first contact with motorcycles and the people who ride them. Even so I'm pleased to find out that they think anyone who hauls cargo across the state, human or otherwise, should follow the laws set down by the transportation department.

    The person who contacted me told me they had received a number of e-mails about this case. Thanks for your support, your vigilance and concern. Wayne"

    Now that the charges had been filed we wondered when the trail would begin. After months with no news I recieved notice from the Tama county attorney that the trial was to begin December 8, 2003. The defense had filed motions to dismiss, the court overruled those motions, and the county attorney recieved that order on December 4. With less than a week to prepare for trial, he asked for and recieved a continuance. The trial is now scheduled to begin January 12, 2004.

    And the latest.

    TOLEDO - A jury of six men and six women today found Gary Lee Butler not guilty in the deaths of three Mid-Iowa motorcycle riders and the serious injury of two others.
    TOLEDO - A jury of six men and six women today found Gary Lee Butler not guilty in the deaths of three Mid-Iowa motorcycle riders and the serious injury of two others.
    The jury deliberated about three hours Wednesday afternoon and one more hour this morning before ruling that Butler was not guilty of three counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of serious injury by vehicle.
    Butler didn't comment or show any reaction after the verdict was read. Four family members in the courtroom reacted with tears. Butler faced up to 34 years in prison if he had been convicted.
    Keith Rigg, Butler's Des Moines attorney, said, "We worked really hard on a difficult case. Our heart goes out to the families of the victims. They suffered through this. And I hope this eases the suffering of everybody."
    Brent Heeren, the Tama County attorney and prosecutor of the case, said it was a "tough case."
    After the jury announced its decision, Butler was released and left the courthouse.
    Butler, a 49-year-old transport driver from Des Moines, was charged with acting recklessly when his van crossed the centerline of U.S. Highway 30 near Chelsea in June 2002 and crashed into a group of Mid-Iowa motorcycle riders.
    Prosecutors alleged he fell asleep after a long night at work hauling a train crew to eastern Iowa.
    Arlen Pickering, 53, of Story City; Douglas Sampson, 51, of Ames; and Ross Holland, 57, of Boone were hit head-on by the van. All were killed.
    Richard Vauble and James Olson, both of Ames, were critically injured. Vauble lost his right leg, and Olson spent nearly four months unconscious in a hospital bed.
    Wayne Wierson, also of Ames, suffered a minor injury to his hand. He was the only rider to walk away from the accident.
    The six riders left Ames around 10 a.m. that day. They were heading to an open house at J & P Cycles in Anamosa.
    Testimony in the trial ended on Tuesday. Closing arguments concluded Wednesday morning.
    Rigg, Butler's attorney, made two key decisions in the trial.
    He chose not to call any witnesses, including Butler. And he chose not to offer the jury a chance to consider a charge of reckless driving, a lesser charge to vehicular homicide.
    Iowa law allows a jury to consider lesser charges against a defendant unless the defendant requests otherwise.
    Prior to the case being handed to the jury, Heeren, the prosecutor, dismissed three involuntary manslaughter charges against Butler.
    Butler spoke only briefly during the two-and-a-half day trial. He responded to a question on whether he wanted to testify.
    "What do you want to do?" Judge Amanda Potterfield asked.
    "Not to testify, your honor," Butler said.
    In order to get a conviction on the vehicular homicide charges, Heeren had to convince the jury that Butler's actions were reckless.
    He claims Butler fell asleep at the wheel after working 16 hours and not sleeping for more than 25 hours.
    "He made a conscious decision that he wanted to get back to Des Moines even though he was over his hours, which he shouldn't be doing," Heeren said. "For whatever reason ... he fell asleep."
    Armadillo Express, Butler's employer, has a policy that its drivers are not to drive for more than 10 hours and not work for more than 15 hours in a 24-hour period.
    Heeren argued Butler was reckless by attempting to drive from Lowden to Des Moines after he exceeded his company's policy.
    "He was willing to take the risk that he could get back without a problem," Heeren said in his closing arguments. "His recklessness was manifested in that crash."
    Rigg argued that Butler negotiated every curve and bend in the two-lane highway up until the second the first collision occurred. He also said Butler was not speeding and not under the influence of any chemical.
    Former Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kent Brown testified that a distracted driver could have caused the same type of accident.
    "It isn't just that there is a bad result so there is a crime," Rigg told the jury. "You take a civil case and because of the emotions of it turn it into something it is not. We have to be careful. We don't want to criminalize everything."
    Several civil cases involving the accident are pending in Story and Polk county district courts.

    What's worse is this same type of sentencing is happening everywhere. and it's getting worse. don't even get me started on Janklow.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Mooresville, NC


    <sound of Jaw dropping and hitting the floor>
    "I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said." -Donald Rumsfeld

  4. #3

    Default I hold a CDL & drive for my living.....

    If I had been on that jury he never would have walked for breaking the "15 hour max" law. Sure, accidents happen all the time but, to disregard laws that are instituted for safety's sake is just absolutely ignorant.

    I've worked for Companies that have NO problem with you going over cuz they know the Feds hold the driver responsable fully. The charges against the Company this jerk worked for won't go anywhere either, I'll bet.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Cumming, Georgia


    Unfortunately, most citizens look at us motorcycle riders as barbarians and we get what we deserve.

    I am applaud by the decision of the jury and the fact that the judge allowed the fiasco to continue in his court. The familys of the victims need to appeal the decision to a higher court and have a lot of group support.... plus find a better attorney to represent them.

    Smilin' Jack

  7. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Default Unfortunate

    Very, very unfortunate! But this type stuff Does happen. A good friend of ours had his leg amputated and he was struck by some jerk who was driving with NO license. I have seen where Drivers just get a slap on the wrist for hitting us bikers. Makes you really very MAD. But if it were a biker who hit someone, wow watch out, he was wreckless and not paying attention and would get jail time. Ok, off my soap box now.


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