Tracy Morgan, known for his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for his role as Tracy Jordan on the TV series 30 Rock, has been moved to rehab from the hospital. His publicist Lewis Kay told the press that though Morgan has been showing signs of recovery, he still has a long way to go before he can be deemed fully fit again. Morgan was involved in a vehicular accident last month when a Wal-Mart tractor trailer drove into his parked limo bus killing his friend and writer James McNair, and severely injuring Morgan. Accident or crime?
It has been a month since the accident that took writer James McNair’s life, and put comedian Tracy Morgan in hospital. Truck driver Kevin Roper’s criminal defense lawyers are trying to save their client from four counts of assault and one count of death by auto. The odd thing about this is that Roper was indicted even before it was known how he was driving that night. It was nine days after the formal charges were declared that the NTSB released a preliminary report which said that the truck driven by Roper was over speeding by at least 20mph prior to the crash. Not only this, a report filed by the police officials also stated that at the time of the crash Roper had probably been awake and behind the wheels for more than 24 hours. With this evidence it has now been proved that the fatal crash in the early morning hours of June 7th was no accident but a crime. Roper, on the advice of his criminal defense lawyers, pleaded not guilty to the charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto. He was let free on a $50,000 bond. Wal-Mart representatives claimed that they were cooperating fully with the investigating authorities and believed that their employee was acting as per rules when he was driving. However, if the results of the investigations prove otherwise the company is ready to take on the blame for the fatal accident. Homicide in New Jersey According to New Jersey law the crime of homicide is divided into three different categories – murder, manslaughter, and death by auto. In contrast, there is a charge of ‘vehicular homicide’ that is used whenever a driver is alleged to have been driving recklessly at the time of a crash or accident leading to someone’s death. Under New Jersey’s criminal code, if it is proven that Roper was indeed guilty of reckless driving then he can face as much as ten years in prison. Since very few drivers actually admit to the court that they were being reckless the onus of proving it lies solely with the court. In New Jersey, falling asleep at the wheel or driving consecutively for more than 24 hours (specified maximum limit for driving) constitutes ‘reckless driving’ and if its proved that Roper’s actions fall within this category then he is surely going to jail. The NTSB has filed its preliminary findings, but now it’s a wait and watch game between the authorities and Roper’s criminal defense attorneys to see who comes out on the top.