One California boy watched a manslaughter charge become a murdercharge 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 - contactus today to schedule a personal consultation.