Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Shock and outrage from the family and friends of two Baltimore girls run down and killed. After two hours of deliberations, a jury finds a man not guilty of hit-and-run.
Mike Hellgren has the reason for the verdict and reaction to it.
Courtney Angeles, 16, and Emerald Smith, 17, were thrown across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and left to die on the pavement after a hit-and-run accident last June.
One of the victims was thrown more than 100 feet from the accident and ended up dying in a gutter.
“Pay attention because no more innocent lives need to be taken whether you’re in a crosswalk or whatever. Come on now. Pay attention when you drive,” said Mary Topi, victim’s mother.
Their loved ones exploded with outrage outside the courthouse after a jury found Reuben Dunn—charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI and leaving the scene — not guilty.
“I am mad, but that’s OK because God does not like ugly, and he will pay when the good Lord above questions him for his actions,” Topi said.
“He understands what happened in this case. He feels for that family too. But to take the blame for something he didn’t do, that’s not right,” said James Rhodes, defense attorney.
Police stopped the car about an hour after the hit-and-run, but Dunn was in the passenger’s seat.
Prosecutors argued he switched seats with his then-girlfriend Kendra Myles. Police found her behind the wheel.
Myles made a deal with prosecutors, getting a suspended sentence and no jail time in exchange for her testimony pointing the finger at Dunn.
“We felt that that was the way to get to the most culpable person, so we felt strongly that that was the appropriate course to take,” said Gregg Bernstein, state’s attorney.
“I called out Mr. Bernstein early on in this case about his decisions and how to prosecute. He had one of the finest prosecutors around trying this case. But it was his decision to put this case on in the matter that he did,” Rhodes said.
Jurors said proof beyond a reasonable doubt simply was not there.
“We didn’t have enough evidence to prove that he was driving. It was very emotional and hard for us,” said a juror.
“I love both of them, and I wish I could bring ‘em back, but it’s over. The city of Baltimore spoke,” Topi said.
The mother also told WJZ despite this verdict she is happy with the prosecution, saying they did an admirable job and did the best with what they had.
Dunn has two children with the ex-girlfriend who testified against him.