The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that a police officer whose cruiser slammed into a woman's car, killing her, will get a second chance to prove his contention that he is innocent because he suffered a seizure moments before the crash.
Stuart Merry was convicted of negligent vehicular homicide in the 2007 crash. The state's highest court ruled a new trial is warranted because the Essex County District Attorney's office unintentionally withheld evidence from the Suffolk County prosecutor brought in to try the case that could have bolstered Merry's case: That an expert believed his cruiser's windshield was cracked by the force of the collision and not by his head. Emergency crews responding to the accident had found Merry lying on the front seat and at least one witness testified he did not see anybody behind the wheel as the vehicle sped toward the woman's car.
However, the court rejected Merry's argument it should direct a finding of "not guilty" and bar a second trial under the double-jeopardy clause, because contradictory evidence by itself is not sufficient reason to find somebody innocent and because, the court said, prosecutors still had enough evidence with which to make a case to the jury even with the expert witness's opinion taken into account.