By Joseph Snook
United States, Florida – Do you believe a person is guilty simply because they were in an accident after they consumed alcohol?
Do you think the level of impairment should be determined in order to make an informed decision?
Do you think the actions of the other driver involved in the accident should be considered before placing blame?
Is it necessary to hear all eye-witness accounts of an accident in order to come to a real conclusion of culpability?
Jamie Clark was in his mid-30’s, outgoing, fun, and a loving kind of guy. He had a good job, owned a home, was engaged to be married, and was active in his community… Then in one horrific instant on Friday the 13th, in October of 2006, everything changed.
Lucy Miller, was an 85-year-old lady, active in her church, and presumably loved by her family. I’m sure there were many more good things to say about Lucy Miller, but she is not here to tell her story. She is no longer able to visit with her family. She won’t be seen at church. Lucy Miller died as a result of an accident with Jamie Clark on that fateful night in October of 2006.
Sadly, as a result of Lucy Miller’s death, prosecutors used her death as a tool to indict. Despite overwhelming evidence that has been described as, “highly favorable to Jamie Clark’s innocence,” Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s have ignored, hidden, or simply refuted such evidence.
Jamie Clark was convicted of DUI Manslaughter five years after the accident had occurred, and almost one year after his original criminal charges were dismissed. Jamie has spent nearly eight years weighing on the events of a night that forever changed his life. Today, Jamie sits in an 8 x 8 cell placing his faith in what little hope is left for his freedom.
WHY SHOULD JAMIE CLARK RECEIVE A NEW TRIAL?
The speed at which Jamie was traveling has been highly disputed and is attributed to why the state sought his conviction. The posted speed limit was 45 mph. Michael Daly, the responding police officer who reconstructed the accident, which was only his second accident reconstruction – found that Jamie was traveling approximately “74 mph at impact.” Defense Expert Andy Fore, who had reconstructed over 1,000 accidents at the time he reconstructed Jamie’s, found that he was traveling “49 mph hour at impact.” Fore is also board certified in forensic engineering, accident reconstruction, and bio-mechanics by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers. He is also certified by the Accreditation Commission on Traffic Accident Reconstructionist (ACTAR).
How could there be such a discrepancy between each experts calculations?
First we analyzed how Officer Daly concluded Clark’s speed. In order to calculate speed, Officer Daly had to know where the final resting point of Jamie’s vehicle (Infiniti SUV) was – in other words he measured from the spot where the Infiniti was found at the scene. Next, we questioned whether or not the “final resting spot” of Jamie’s Infiniti was accurate. A post-crash interview provides a statement that Jamie physically drove his car up onto the curb after the crash to avoid oncoming traffic which supports the Infiniti’s final stop (as determined by officer Daly) could not accurately be used to determine Clark’s speed. During a recorded statement, just minutes after the accident, Daly asked Jamie, “So you can’t tell me if you drove it (Infiniti) to that point over there from any point prior to there?” Jamie responded, “No, No… I drove that car (his infinity) … so, the car was under my power up onto that curb…for sure. I definitely drove that car on top of that curb.”
Supporting evidence in opposition of Officer Daly’s findings:
1. Expert witness for the defense, Andy Fore – Despite his abundance of credentials, his experience alone speaks for itself. He is an expert – he has reconstructed accidents for the state and defense attorney’s many times and testified many times. If his calculations were wrong in Clark’s case, then each of the 1,000+ previous accidents he reconstructed must be called into question.
2. Jamie Clark’s own statement to Daly between minutes 22 – 25 on dash cam video; admitting that he physically drove his vehicle to its final resting point.
3. Post crash eyewitness Robert Cheslow stated that Jamie’s car was traveling “very slow” after the accident, not “50 mph” as stated by Officer Daly.
4. State prosecutors were accused of withholding Miller’s Toyota Camry black box data. This is important because black box data is used to determine vehicle speeds pre, during and post crash. Lucy Miller’s post crash speed, contained in her vehicle black box could have been used to determine how fast Jamie was driving. This important information “was not provided” to the defense before trial, but accidently discovered by Jamie’s Appellate Council while reviewing the State Attorney’s files almost a year after his trial.
5. Thomas Lacek, a third party accident reconstruction expert not associated with this case, with over 30 years of experience in accident reconstruction stated, “I’m not picking on or trying to uh, lower the integrity of the work by the police. You’ll hear about all these courses they’ve done. Well basically they’re trying to learn the technical stuff. They are non-technical people trying to learn technical stuff. To engineers, it’s second nature. It’s just applied science…” This statement was made during a conversation about Jamie Clark’s case.
6. Former Prosecutor Ellen Roberts stated during testimony at Clark’s PCR hearing, “Initially we knew there was nothing to be gained from the data,” referring to Miller’s Toyota black box. This not only shows her bias towards conviction, it clearly shows she offered an opinion that she is an expert on accident reconstruction, which she is not.
7. The only eyewitness to the accident, Marcy Bloch stated, “I saw cars coming…I don’t remember if that person (Jamie Clark) was speeding or not,…I wanted to scream out and say please don’t go, but it was too late.”
8. Photos of the vehicles post crash. The state and defense experts disagree on the angles of impact, which was also used to make significant calculations. State Prosecutors filed a motion to show the jury both vehicles during Jamie’s trial. When examining the condition of both vehicles at trial vs. the condition they were in at the scene of the accident, “more damage was visibly clear.” Why would the State alter the condition of the vehicles before showing them to the jury?
9. Most important – Officer Daly’s own words. When asked if he had any experience with EDR’s (black box) during his testimony at Jamie’s PCR hearing he replied, “Not any formal training, No.” In fact, Officer Daly stated that he had never testified as an expert on accident reconstruction prior to Jamie’s accident.
Was Officer Daly’s report accurate? Could his inexperience have influenced the state to seek another expert opinion? Ultimately, the state got what they wanted, another “expert” from the police department – basically one of Daly’s superiors and co-workers to validate his report despite a lack of evidence to support their claims. The defense also hired another expert – who concluded almost identical information as Defense Expert & Reconstructionist Andy Fore. This new expert for the defense was the Chairman of the Board of EDR Committee for the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE).Still, the evidence is what it is despite the experts disagreement. When taking everything into account, you can only presume that the evidence is in favor of Jamie Clark.
More Supporting Evidence
Eyewitness testimony withheld – Prosecutors filed a Motion in Limine to disallow certain testimony from Marcy Bloch, the only accident eyewitness. This motion was not opposed by Jamie’s first attorney. Marcy Bloch’s full statement provided to police was not presented to jurors, instead the court relied on her recollection of the accident, almost five years later. Her testimony was not the same as the night she gave her statement to the police. While testifying, Marci Bloch stated “yes,” when asked if Lucy Miller made a “normal u-turn.” Nothing could be further from the truth if you read her statement to the police which was taken shortly after the accident where she says, “I would never of made that turn.”
The defense claimed the state withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. Exculpatory evidence is defined as evidence the prosecution has that is favorable to the defense. The black-box data from Miller’s vehicle was obtained by the prosecution, but they stated numerous times that, “there was no usable data.” This led Jamie’s original defense attorney to disregard this evidence.
After Jamie was convicted, his new attorney’s found Miller’s black-box data while searching through the states old files at the courthouse. This “newly disconvered evidence” was described as “very crucial for validating the defense experts findings.” It was reported that the State did not share this evidence with the defense in order to maintain the inaccurate findings of Officer Daly.
Subsequent to the evidence being discovered, Jamie’s attorney’s filed a motion for Post Conviction Relief.
In an attempt to maintain no culpability, the original trial prosecutor Ellen Roberts stated that the black-box data was given to Jamie’s attorney, although there was no evidence to support that Lucy’s black box data was ever shared with the defense. Roberts claimed that the prosecutor’s office “Inadvertently”attached the wrong printout to the motion. The contents within the motion did not include Lucy’s black box data or photos of the removal of the data as described. Instead, the contents within the report were for an Infiniti that was alleged to be Jamie’s. There was no vin number associated with the report to verify it was Jamie’s Infiniti. The report stated the vehicle was an Infininti FX35/45. Jamie was driving an Infiniti FX45. The state even went as far as adding, “no usable data available” on the motion, which deceived Jamie’s defense.
Roberts maintained that it was Jamie’s fault that his attorney did not look through the contents of the report. Judge John Kastrenakes bought this attempt to deceive the court and sided with the State. This was no surprise considering Kastrenakes was a prosecutor himself for almost 30 years prior to becoming a judge. He was also the original judge who presided during Jamie’s conviction. Kastrenakes denied Jamie’s PCR motion.
SELECTIVE PROSECUTION? Did Ellen Roberts prosecute Jamie for almost identical reasons she declined to prosecute others? Multiple cases were found during our research that cause concern for wrongful practices of West Palm Beach County Prosecutor’s.
DUI DETECTION EXPERTS – Three police officers who responded to the scene, trained in DUI detection stated that “Jamie showed no signs of intoxication” other than the presence of alcohol on his breath. Jamie was not cited for DUI on the night of the accident, he was not arrested, and was allowed to go home. Dash camera footage from Officer Daly’s patrol vehicle clearly supports all three officers claims that Jamie was not impaired.The State’s Toxicologist reported a BAC of .12, one hour after the accident which was refuted by Board Certified Toxicologist, Lawrence W. Masten, PhD, DABT.
CAUSE OF ACCIDENT – The accident occurred after dusk – around 9:30 pm on Friday the 13th, 2006.85-year-old Lucy Miller was not wearing corrective glasses, which was a legal requirement according to her Driver’s License. She also had sustained a leg injury prior to driving that night, which supports why she was allegedly not wearing shoes when the accident occurred. This also supports the only eyewitness, Marci Bloch’s statement that there was not enough judgment in the u-turn Miller was attempting to make.
HIGHLY CONNECTED ATTORNEY – Lucy Miller’s son, Steven Schumer obtained the help of Diego Asencio, a prominent Florida attorney who is allegedly “very well connected.” Asencio was also touted as the lead attorney for M.A.D.D. – Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. Asencio filed a civil suit on behalf of Miller’s family against Jamie’s employer – claiming that the dinner Jamie was at prior to the accident was “work-related.” Lucy Miller’s family reportedly settled out of court for a large sum of money. According to information obtained during our investigation, Asencio is very well connected politically in West Palm Beach.
Jamie Clark has maintained his innocence for almost 8 years. This is the first time all of his evidence has been made public. He is hoping that by making his case public, the system that failed him, will provide him with the chance to receive a fair trial. Blaming him for the unfortunate mistake made by another motorist does not serve justice, especially considering that three highly trained DUI detection experts for the Boca Raton Police Department did not arrest him.
There are extenuating circumstances behind everything and sometimes things are just out of your control – that’s why such things are called an accident.
The US~Observer asks anyone with comments or questions to contact Joseph Snook at firstname.lastname@example.org. A film about this case, titled “Deserving Justice” will be available this summer.
Previous articles written by the US~Observer:
Deserving Release –
Relief for a Wrongfully Convicted Man?
“Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right”
Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg Hinders Justice
West Palm Beach corruption and cover-up
Judge Kastrenakes Brady Violation Ruling Postponed
Outweighing the Evidence –
Judge Rules in Favor of State