One California boy watched a manslaughter charge become a
murder charge after prosecutor’s studied his tweets.
Cody Hall, who is just 18-years-old, was originally charged with vehicular
manslaughter when he hit and killed a bicyclist and injured another person. Hall is being held without bail after doing 83 mph in a 40 mph zone when
he struck Johannes and Diana Hersevoort. Johannes, 57, survived the impact
on Foothill Road, but his wife Diana, 58, was killed.
Less than a week before Cody Hall was arrested for the killing of Diana
Hersevoort, we had written about
the murky distinctions between murder and manslaughter charges. While a death is a death, not all killings are
murder. The difference between second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter
is the difference between a reckless disregard from life and a negligent
act that causes death.
In Cody Hall’s case,
prosecutors were able to bump his charge up from manslaughter to murder
because the teenager allegedly has a bad driving record and because his
tweets have described his love for speeding. He retweeted something along the lines of “Drive fast live young
#HotelCalifornia” just hours before the collision – while
this probably is a typical and harmless tweet, it may be just enough to
give the prosecution the edge it may need.
As you may infer from our earlier post on
the difference between murder and manslaughter, the prosecution will have to prove that the killing was malicious rather
than simply accidental. In Cody Hall’s case, it’s probably
impossible to argue express malice or that Hall intentionally murdered
Diana Hersevoort. Instead, the prosecution will probably try to show implied
malice by arguing that Hall intentionally and recklessly created the dangerous
situation that resulted in Diana Hersevoort’s death.
“Drive Fast, Live Young” is the name of a track off of a popular
2013 rap album and it is difficult to see how strongly a retweet can play
into the prosecution’s case. Like many second degree murder cases
that could just as easily be manslaughter ones, the prosecution may have
their work cut out for them. Meanwhile, Hall’s defense lawyer may
have to reckon with his client’s shoddy driving record and tweets
from months earlier in order to successfully lower or defeat the murder charge.
If you or somebody you care about has been charged with a criminal offense
in Texas, reach out to The Kyle Law Firm. Our highly experienced
criminal defense attorneysoperate on a contingency fee basis and will always offer completely free
case assessments – contact us today to schedule a personal consultation.