Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

March 22, 2014

Jury acquits truck driver charged in fatal Mayfield crash

TRAVERSE CITY — A Grand Traverse County jury acquitted a Canadian semi-truck driver charged in a Mayfield Township crash that killed two Thompsonville men.

Kuldeep Singh Khangura, 28, of Markham, Ont., stood trial in 86th District Court for two days on two counts of a moving violation causing death, a misdemeanor.

Brothers Jeffery Mitchell Toole, 49, and Joel Willard Toole, 43, died Aug. 2 when their pickup truck and Khangura's semi-truck collided on M-37. Authorities believed Khangura's trailer drifted into the Tooles' path, but Khagura's attorney Robert Whims argued eyewitness testimony and the evidence showed otherwise.

Jurors spent about an hour to hand down a "not guilty" verdict on both counts.

"I think the jury just realized that it didn't happen like they said it did," Whims said.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said he respected the jury's decision.

"We had a lot of confidence in the accident investigation, but there was a lot of information for the jury to consider," he said. "Ultimately, they found reasonable doubt."

The trial and verdict came after months of delays spurred by a unique request from prosecutors: that the defense's crash investigation be shared in "discovery" before trial. Cooney said Michigan prosecutors typically don't get access to defense witnesses or evidence in misdemeanor cases as they do with felonies.

"It's a matter of practicality that never set right by me that you would have trial by ambush," he said.

Eighty-sixth District Court Judge Thomas Phillips and 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power both denied the request and set the stage for trial.

Whims never ended up putting his own crash reconstruction expert on the witness stand. He said eyewitness testimony and evidence made clear that Khangura's truck didn't stray over the road's center line -- the moving violation at issue.

"Obviously, justice was done and the right thing happened," he said.

Whims said Khangura, who drives trucks to support his family, humbly accepted the verdict.

1
Text Only

Latest News
Life
Sports
Business