Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Manslaughter defendant indicted again

Prosecutor acknowledges ‘irregularities’ in earlier proceedings

Express Staff Writer

Steven Tyler Jameson

A 20-year-old Bellevue man has been indicted for a second time by a Blaine County grand jury in connection with the death last summer of a Ketchum man on the north side of Magic Reservoir in southern Blaine County.

Steven Tyler Jameson was arraigned on the charges, which are the same from an earlier grand jury indictment, on Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court. Jameson remains accused of felony vehicular manslaughter, the felony crime of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death and the misdemeanor crime of driving without a license.

Jameson could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if it is proven that he was operating a vehicle with gross negligence or up to 15 years in prison if it’s proven that he was intoxicated when he caused the accident.

The felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident is punishable by up to an additional five years in prison, while the misdemeanor driving-without-a-license charge is punishable by up to six months in the county jail.

At arraignment, Jameson pleaded not guilty to all three crimes. A jury trial was scheduled to begin Feb. 27.

Jameson has remained incarcerated in the Blaine County jail on $250,000 bond since his arrest on June 2, the day that Stephen Ray Franco, 26, died following an accident on the west side of the Poison Creek inlet to Magic Reservoir. The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office alleges that Jameson backed his vehicle into Franco, knocking him off a cliff. Franco fell about 14 feet, suffered a severe head injury and was pronounced dead later that day at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

As a procedural matter, with the filing of the new indictment against Jameson on Nov. 15, the charges in the earlier indictment have now been dismissed.

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas explained the second indictment in an email sent last week to the Idaho Mountain Express.

“I wanted to address several potential procedural irregularities in the process of obtaining the initial indictment,” Thomas wrote. “Most notably, providing an additional instruction for the jury to consider and adding an additional witness to establish the actual death of Franco. We took care of that and received an identical indictment.”

Prior to the second indictment, Ketchum attorney Brian Elkins, representing Jameson, had filed motions with the court seeking to dismiss the earlier indictment because of procedural problems and the use of “impermissible hearsay” evidence.

In an interview after Monday’s court hearing, Elkins said some of his arguments are now moot.

“My main argument was that the grand jury was not properly instructed on the elements of felony vehicular manslaughter,” Elkins said. “The state was convinced that they had a problem procedurally and were required to start over. The state also brought in supposed hearsay evidence that is not allowed.”

Elkins said he may file new motions challenging the new indictment and evidence against his client.

Terry Smith:

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