The highly publicized result in the Riverview dentist Matthew Moye DUI manslaughter case may have been due to flaws in the police investigation, according to Moye’s defense attorney.
The case was finalized last week when Moye accepted a plea bargain with the prosecution which saw him sent to jail for 12 years – somewhat less than the average for the sort of crime that he had been accused of committing. Many DUI manslaughter sentences in Hillsborough County have seen defendants committed for 20 years or more, although the 12 year sentence was still within the standards set for this sort of offense.
The families of the two young people who were killed when Moye’s Cadillac hit them in the early hours of the morning on the Harbor Island Bridge were critical about the level of severity of the sentence. They said that they had hoped that Moye would have been committed to staying longer behind bars.
Moye’s defense attorney, Steve Romine has filed a deposition suggesting that there were a large number of flaws in the police investigation into the deaths and the events that led to them. In fact, there have been 140 separate aspects to the investigation which Mr. Romine claims were suspect or flawed.
The number of flaws and their impact on the prosecution’s case may have been the reason why the prosecution offered a plea bargain between them and Moye which was accepted by him when he turned up in court last week. The county’s State Attorney’s Office spokesman, Matthew Cox has kept tight lipped about the deposition and has made no public comment.
Amongst the flaws that have been mentioned in the deposition was a failure by the police to find a key witness present at the scene of the accident. The police officer who was on the scene of the accident was apparently called away almost immediately, preventing him from carrying out a full investigation into Moye’s behavior. Later, he was told that computer mapping experts who may have been useful in the case were “unavailable”. A second video which may have recorded Moye’s approach to the bridge crash scene was apparently destroyed before it could be used as evidence. There were also serious questions raised about the speed at which Moye was traveling when his vehicle hit the two pedestrians.
One of the key aspects mentioned was the presence of a taxi driver at the scene of the accident. Moye apparently told one of the police officers who questioned him about the incident that he was trying to avoid a taxi cab just before his car went out of control. The taxi driver apparently did not stop and has not been found since that night three years ago.
The speed discrepancy apparently hinges on a black box recorder in Moye’s car that records his speed at the time of impact at 87 mph. Defense experts insist that this speed is inconsistent with the statements of a witness at the scene. The speed may have been recorded when the car was momentarily airborne and the wheels were spinning much faster than normal.
A spokesperson for Hillsborough police, Laura McElroy, said that it was expected that Moye’s defense would try to find as many aspects as possible to raise doubts about the prosecution’s case. However, a long time DUI prosecution attorney who has been working on DUI defense cases more recently, Kevin Hayslett, said, according to a Tampa Bay Times report, that the plea bargain worked in the interests of both Matthew Moye and the prosecution. He said that at least the prosecution came away with a conviction; at the same time Moye will be able to walk out of jail a little sooner than he might have done if the case had gone to trial.
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