Solicitor explains charges in bicyclist fatality

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 10:05 AM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 10:34 AM
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The South Carolina Highway Patrol finished its investigation into a wreck that killed a bicyclist on Beech Island Avenue "several weeks ago," Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. said this morning.

Any charges against the driver, Daniel Johnson, were delayed, though, to avoid double jeopardy, Thurmond said.

Dr. Matthew Burke was one of five cyclists struck from behind by Johnson's Dodge Durango on Oct. 1. Burke was in a coma until his death Sunday evening.

Thurmond said a charge of reckless driving was possible, but if Johnson pleaded guilty or was convicted of the charge, it would have made it much harder to press the current charge of reckless homicide.

"A double jeopardy argument could have been made," said Thurmond, referring to the constitutional amendment that protects citizens from being charged with the same crime twice in a case.

Thurmond said his office was "certainly hoping" that Burke would recover from his injuries, but added "it's illogical to serve a warrant for reckless homicide if the victim is still alive."

Asked about a reckless driving charge for the four other cyclists injured, Thurmond replied that was a decision to be made on the magistrate level. 

A bond hearing is scheduled for Johnson at 3 p.m. today.

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icemanw83
37
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icemanw83 02/09/11 - 11:51 am
0
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I feel sorry for the family,

I feel sorry for the family, but I'm glad that the more serious charge can now be filed against Mr. Johnson. His behavior was completely unacceptable. And they also need to charge him with reckless driving for each of the other cyclists that he hit, one of whom is a friend of mine.

usapatriot
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usapatriot 02/09/11 - 01:30 pm
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I hope many of you are

I hope many of you are breathing easier now. Perhaps turning attention to the black guy killed on his bike last week. Plenty of unknowns open for your speculation there.

RIP Major.

LOU32
0
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LOU32 02/09/11 - 01:30 pm
0
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I feel incredibly bad for all

I feel incredibly bad for all the families, but one thing is bothering me about all of these comments. Have you never, not even ONCE in your driving years, took your eyes off the road for a moment? If you say no, you aren't being honest. It could have been ANYone. Don't be so quick to judge. I'm sure the driver knows what he's done. I don't know the driver and have never met him, but he wasn't drinking, or doing drugs. He made a horrible, irreversible mistake that he will have to pay for. Trust me, I'm sure he is miserable with himself and doesn't need anyone else trying to hang him up. Give compassion to the family, and don't be so quick to judge.

Imzadi
8
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Imzadi 02/09/11 - 01:47 pm
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I can be quick to judge

I can be quick to judge because I have driven through this area many times in the past. The cyclists are out there on a consistent basis. It is their right to have a portion of the road for their use. It is commonly known they are out there and all measures should be taken by a motorist to avoid any incidents with these cyclists. To say one just took his eye off the road for a second does not wash with me. These cyclists travel in large groups and are un mistakable to see. A wide berth is not only suggested but is required for the safety of all involved. The driver of any vehicle who hits these slower moving cyclists should have slowed down, yielded and even stopped if needs be.

I see no plausible reason this should have happened other than someone in too big a hurry

follower
59
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follower 02/09/11 - 01:56 pm
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Imzadi, so, you've never hit

Imzadi, so, you've never hit the center line? You've never hit the warning bumps on the interstate? You've never started and stopped quickly because you didn't see an approaching car? You've never started to change lanes and realized someone was over there?

I've never been in an accident where I was at fault. But I realize that things can happen very quickly. In no way am I letting Mr. Johnson off the hook or coming to his defense. But I also know, "but for the grace of God, there go I".

I hope your claim of perfection never comes back to haunt you.

LOU32
0
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LOU32 02/09/11 - 02:02 pm
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Very well said follower. I

Very well said follower. I agree.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 02/09/11 - 02:21 pm
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I don't buy Thurmonds

I don't buy Thurmonds comments. Johnson could have been charged and then charges upgraded when Burke died. These charges did not have to be prosecuted until Burke was deceased or improved. That happens all the time in gun cases and then victim dies charges are upgraded from assault to murder. I feel for everyone involved and do not think this was an intentional act on Johnsons part. I also have said many prayers for the Burke family.

follower
59
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follower 02/09/11 - 02:37 pm
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OhWell, what is it you don't

OhWell, what is it you don't buy? The Solicitor, a lawyer, said a charge of reckless driving could have been made, but if Johnson plead and was sentenced, and the victim died afterwards, charging Johnson again would have been difficult.

Additionally, you say you don't think it was intentional, but you suggest the charge could have been upgraded to "murder". Murder has malice and intent. So you really meant manslaughter?

Perhaps you should vie for Thurmonds position. Of course, if you win, you won't have the luxury of second guessing.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 02/09/11 - 05:03 pm
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I stated this happens all the

I stated this happens all the time in shootings when victim dies and charges are upgraded to murder. I in no way meant Johnson should be charged with murder. As you know he has been charged and bail set at $50,000.00. I do feel it took way to long for charges to be made or any intent of it mentioned by Thurmond. I cannot run for his position because I live on the wrong side of the Savannah River. Nothing Johnson did in my opinion from what I know was done with malice.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 02/09/11 - 05:24 pm
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Thanks for your imput Lima

Thanks for your imput Lima

WHEUBANKS
1
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WHEUBANKS 02/09/11 - 05:45 pm
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@Follower, I for one have

@Follower, I for one have hit a canter line, and the warning bumps. What is your point? I have never drifted into a guard rail, never hit a raised median, never drifted into a power pole. Heck I’ve never even hit a garbage can that was in the roadway. Just this morning I did not hit the car in front of me on Walton way that went 25mph from the lake all the way to Highland Avenue. Maybe its just me but some situations put me on notice to be careful. A group of eight adults on bikes seems to qualify for a little extra caution.

rdbike
47
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rdbike 02/09/11 - 05:55 pm
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Lou32...you say he wasn't

Lou32...you say he wasn't drinking or on drugs when he ran over the cyclists. We don't know that and never will because no tests were given at the scene. The officer on the scene claims Johnson didn't appear to be drunk or on drugs, but without any tests...we will never know.

follower
59
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follower 02/09/11 - 05:56 pm
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Lima, no one is taking up for

Lima, no one is taking up for Johnson. But by capitalizing all of the words you do, it seems you KNOW his state of mind. You say it was "deliberate". Not only do you claim to be an accident investigator, you are now alluding to a degree in psychology.

Johnson may well be a scumbag. I don't know. It's extremely unfortunate that anyone loses a life from the actions of another, whether deliberate or not. But only God knows the entire circumstance, and Lima, you are not God.

Pointing out that everyone has had lapses when driving is in no way being disrespectful to Mrs. Burke and family. It was merely a reminder that but for the grace of God, we could find ourselves at the center of attention from a viscious, relentless, and judgemental public.

Lima, you are a perfect example of that public. Just as I advised Imzadi, I hope your perfection is never put to the test.

rdbike
47
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rdbike 02/09/11 - 06:12 pm
0
0
follower...what you need to

follower...what you need to understand is that you don't need to have a degree in psychology to know Johnson's state of mind. He made it perfectly clear in the aftermath of his run in with the cyclists by stating how "sick and tired" he is of these bicyclists on "HIS" road, always getting in his way and slowing down traffic! Honestly, I always thought the road belonged to the state and that us SC taxpayers along with federal funds paid for that road. How he gets off claiming the road to be his is beyond my comprehension. He makes it sound like these cyclists were trespassing and he took care of them for doing it. Sometimes more truth is told in a moment of frustration or emotional outburst than at any other time.

follower
59
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follower 02/09/11 - 06:26 pm
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You guys obviously have seen

You guys obviously have seen or heard where Johnson made these comments. I haven't. If he did, it will weigh heavily on his sentencing. I'm not giving him a break at all. He'll get what's coming to him.

What I was pointing out was that we all have been distracted before. To deny that is folly. And because of that, we could find ourself in a position of harming someone, even if our intent was completely pure. And God help us if it's front page news.

Johnson will have to live with the fact that his actions, intentional or not, caused the loss of a husband, father, and friend to many. All of the vile and viscious comments from those that want "blood" are hardly indicative of a civil society. It's obvious there is a mob mentality when we have a legal system to deal with those who break the law.

If he did indeed make those comments, he will receive the maximum sentence the law allows.

corgimom
27772
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corgimom 02/09/11 - 07:16 pm
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So comforting that Lima can

So comforting that Lima can read someone else's mind. Why are they even bothering to have a trial? According to Lima, he's guilty. And Lima KNOWS the truth.

If bicycle riders believe that motor vehicle drivers deliberately run them down- which I don't believe for one second, by the way- then WHO would be foolish enough to ride a bicycle on a public road? Rights, schmights, you would have to be DERANGED to do such a thing!

I SURE WOULDN"T DO THAT.

Who would DO that? Especially someone with a family???

My father killed a man with a car way back in the 1930's in San Diego. He was driving a cab, it was a rainy dark night, there was a drunk sitting in the middle of the road and my father didn't see him.

50 years later, he still was upset about it.

Lima, I hope you get help, if that's your mindset about people.

And WHAT is vominous?? A big heaping of vomus?

And you are a trained accident investigator? Um, sure.

airbud7
1
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airbud7 02/09/11 - 09:14 pm
0
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Reckless homicide is a form

Reckless homicide is a form of involuntary manslaughter in which someone dies as a direct consequence of reckless behavior on the part of someone else.

Reckless behavior is behavior which could lead to injurious or fatal consequences which someone decides to engage in despite these consequences. To demonstrate that someone behaved in a manner which is reckless, it must be shown that the person was aware of the risks and chose to engage in the activity anyway.

(It must be shown that the person was aware of the risks and chose to engage in the activity anyway)
This might be hard to Prove?

WW1949
19
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WW1949 02/09/11 - 10:22 pm
0
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I was not there and do not

I was not there and do not know what happened. How many of you were there? Let the trial begin and the witnesses come forward so that we may know the truth. As follower says, I have hit the warning markers many times or drifted toward the cnter line. No one is a perfect driver, just look at all the body shops around town.

wsm141
115
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wsm141 02/10/11 - 09:08 am
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LIMA59: Do you realize that

LIMA59:

Do you realize that your entire statement could land you in a very expensive lawsuit!? Mr Johnson has been Charged! He has not been found guilty! Ask yourself this question. What if he is found guilty or what if he is found not guilty? Either way you can be charged with defamation of character and you would lose because you have the evidence posted here for the world in your post above.

Sean Moores
832
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Sean Moores 02/10/11 - 11:33 am
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I'm closing comment under

I'm closing comment under this story. If you want to post comments on this topic, go to our most recent story.
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2011-02-10/driver-gets-bo...

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