Earlier this week we reported on a horrible car accident that took the lives of three people in Lakeland, Florida: Dorothy Operhall, 56, Melina Helbig, 48, and Leonard Simmons, 51.
Given my experience as an injury attorney and former DUI prosecutor, I strongly suspected that DUI Manslaughter charges might be forthcoming, especially in light of the developments reported in the media.
This expectation has proven correct as news sources indicate that Edward McCoy is now facing three counts of DUI Manslaughter.
Given the horrible loss of life in this case, I expect Mr. McCoy to get a prison sentence that is rather hefty. However, the input of the victim’s families will play a big role in the outcome of the case.
While most people might think a victim’s family will always want to see the drunk driver get the maximum sentence, this is not always the case. Some families, especially religious ones who believe in forgiveness, will sometimes not take such a strong stance.
The point is this: Under Florida law, victims of crime have the right to be heard in court, they have the right to be present at every material proceeding, and they have the right to offer their input regarding a possible sentence.
Hopefully the fact that McCoy has been charged with a crime will give the victims’ families some notion of justice to be be used by them as they see fit… whether that is for recommending a maximum sentence or something else.
As victims, it is their right.
My condolences go out to the families and I hope that this latest development at least eases their burden to some degree, although I can’t possibly fathom the pain they are experiencing right now. Hopefully they will find some sense of solace through the courts.