Can the Truck Driver Get a Fair Trial?by Jana Ritter - Published: 9/07/2015
Kevin Roper, the Walmart truck driver involved in the accident that killed comedian James McNair and critically injured celebrity Tracy Morgan, has asked that the criminal charges against him be dismissed because the high profile case has made it impossible for him to get a fair trial.
January 05, 2018 - Trucker Faces 20 Years After Pleading Guilty To Smuggling Alien Found Dead In Locked Toolbox
January 02, 2018 - Police Identify 2 Oregon Truck Drivers Killed In Fiery Head-On Crash
December 27, 2017 - Iowa First Of Eight States To Debut New Truck Parking Information System
According to the legal documents filed by Roper’s attorneys, in addition to the constant news coverage biasing potential jurors, Walmart has also made it impossible for him with their public admissions. Not only did they settle multi-million dollar civil suits with Morgan and the McNair family, Walmart also issued a formal press release stating it was responsible for the accident. Roper says that these actions, coupled with public statements issued by the NTSB (although the NTSB did also recently release findings to show other factors at fault), and public appearances by Tracy Morgan's lawyer, the media has already convicted him and made it impossible for him to get a fair trial. Roper is said to have been violating the HOS rules and had been awake for more than 24 hours when he crashed into Morgan’s limo bus on the New Jersey turnpike in June 2014. Roper was arrested and charged with four counts of assault by auto and one count of death by auto.
While it may be a far stretch for Roper to ask the judge to throw out his case all together, he may have a valid point about the civil settlements impeding on his criminal trial. In fact, civil cases are often put on hold for the very reason of not interfering with criminal proceedings. However, because Kevin Roper and Walmart have been acting as two separate parties in two separate cases, his attorneys have had no jurisdiction over Walmart’s actions. Although Roper had already pled not guilty to the charges, his employers took responsibility for the incident and Roper’s attorneys consider it major evidence that he’s already been denied his right to a fair trial.
The biggest blow came with the news headlines announcing Walmart’s settlement with Tracy Morgan in May of 2015. Although the financial terms of the agreement were never formally revealed, rumors have been circulating that Walmart dished out as much as $90 million for Morgan’s pain and suffering. But interestingly enough, Morgan was photographed walking without assistance in August and just two weeks ago he seemed to have made a miraculous recovery walking down the aisle on his own at his private wedding ceremony. Whether or not this could be used as evidence to help the truck driver’s plight - has yet to be seen.