Not Guilty by Reason of Brain Tumors?

A Minnesota man killed a jogger when he lost control of his SUV. The driver failed a field sobriety test because he sounded and acted impaired, but then passed a breathalyzer analysis. His strange demeanor on the scene was explained three days later, when he was diagnosed with four brain tumors.

He has now been released without charges and is undergoing treatment. Should he go free, or should he have known something was wrong before he got behind the wheel?

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“In this case,” says criminal defense attorney Sara Azzari, “to find him guilty of vehicular manslaughter there has to be gross negligence. And somebody who doesn’t know they have lesions and doesn’t know they aren’t safe to drive, there’s no way you can find them guilty of a crime.”

“This case is so sad,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork responds. “However, we are seeing more and more individuals who use a medical excuse for committing crimes. Sometimes even in the medical world, we can’t always make sense of whether they’re using this as an excuse.”

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In this case, however, the man actually denied having a medical condition when questioned by the police, because he didn’t know about the tumors. “He feels terrible,” says Sara. “He says he wishes he had been the dead guy.”

Dr. Stork recalls, years ago, seeing a car in a parking lot ram into three other cars at high speed – the driver was in the throes of a seizure. “When you’re walking or biking, you always have to be aware,” he concludes. “Things happen.” He wishes well to everyone involved in this terrible case.

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