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Criminal Justice

Driver Accused of Driving While Drowsy Is Acquitted of Manslaughter in Bus Crash

Posted Dec 7, 2012 2:02 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A bus driver accused of driving while drowsy has been acquitted of manslaughter and negligent homicide in a crash that killed 15 passengers.

Jurors acquitted Ophadell Williams of 53 out of 54 charges, the New York Times and the New York Daily News report. He was convicted of just one misdemeanor charge, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Williams has been in prison for more than a year because he was unable to post bond. The verdict was announced Friday.

The Times says the verdict was a blow to prosecutors who had hoped the case would set a precedent about the dangers of driving while drowsy. Prosecutors had called 55 witnesses in an attempt to show that Williams was so fatigued he should not have been operating the bus. They cited Williams’ cellphone and car rental records in an effort to establish he was awake when he should have been sleeping.

Williams had claimed he lost control of the bus because he was cut off by a tractor-trailer.

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