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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ind. Decisions - "Man who hit school bus is in trouble for apologizing"

The case of Gabino Gonzalez v. State of Indiana, argued this morning before the Supreme Court, is the subject of a story this afternoon reported by Eric Bradner of the Evansville Courier & Press that begins:

INDIANAPOLIS — Attorneys for a man who sent an apology letter to local school officials admitting he had consumed alcohol the day he crashed into a school bus asked the Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday not to punish him for saying he’s sorry.

After crashing his pickup truck into the side of a school bus carrying children in October 2006, the Mexican national who is identified by the name Gabino Gonzalez and two more names in court documents was on course to see a plea agreement reached in 2008.

But that agreement was scuttled when Gonzalez sent a letter to Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation officials apologizing for the incident and admitting that he had consumed alcohol that day.

The letter raised the eyebrows of Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Margaret Lloyd, who tossed the plea agreement after quizzing Gonzalez about contents of the letter which she found disingenuous.

Gonzalez, whose case then went to trial, faced a stiffer punishment when a court allowed the letter to be entered into evidence and he was convicted of criminal mischief and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

The debate Tuesday centered on a state law that protects defendants from having anything they tell prosecutors during plea negotiations from being used against them in court.

Gonzalez’ letter was sent to the EVSC, not prosecutors, but his attorney, Evansville-based Matthew McGovern, argued that Gonzalez should still be protected from having that letter used against him.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 17, 2009 02:43 PM
Posted to Upcoming Oral Arguments