On January 21, 2014, 6-year-old Rebecca Courson was run over by a car on the property she lived at in Jefferson County, Fl and died at the hospital soon after. At the time of the accident, she was playing behind a vehicle when she was run over after a drunk 13-year-old driver put the truck into reverse instead of drive. Also intoxicated was the only adult present, 38-year-old David Courson, father of Rebecca. Besides being intoxicated, David Courson was also a passenger in the truck that the 13-year-old was driving, along with an 8 year old. Besides the 13-year-old driver, police smelled alcohol on the breath of a 12-year-old on the property. A bag of marijuana was found in the vehicle which struck the little girl. Charges are still pending for the young driver of the vehicle and David Courson was arrested on a charge of manslaughter for the death of his daughter. It is unclear where the minors got the alcohol that they were drinking at the time of this accident and Courson has not been charged with providing it at this time.
A case like this is especially tragic because of the death of a young child and the young age of the child who was driving impaired and ran her over. While the 13 year old who was driving the car that struck Rebecca Courson has not been charged, that still remains a possibility, despite her young age, just not as an adult. Under Florida’s “zero tolerance” drunk driving policy, any person under the age of 21 who gets behind the wheel with over a .02 BAC is subject to a DUI charge. However, even in Florida, which leads the country in charging juveniles as adults, as being under 14 and this not being a capital offense, the 13-year-old would not be able to be charged as an adult by prosecutors.
However, it is David Courson who is most likely to get the brunt of the legal responsibility here, which is signaled by the fact that he has already been charged with manslaughter for the death of his daughter. Because the victim in this case was a minor, Courson faces a charge of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child, a first degree penalty meaning he could face up to 30 years in prison. This is compared to regular voluntary manslaughter, where Courson would face 15 years in prison. His actions in this instance in not only a 13-year-old drive, but a drunk 13-year-old, clearly Courson meets the requirements of culpable negligence under Florida law when it comes to an involuntary manslaughter charge. The fact remains, it would have been negligence enough if David Courson was letting a 13 year old drive his car, the fact that she was drunk and he was a passenger who obviously knew she was not licensed, makes his legal responsibility clear.
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