Originally created 08/24/06

Chain reaction

Dr. Mohammad A. Behzadian's defense attorney says his jury "recognized this tragic event for what it was."

The question is, does Georgia law?

The Medical College of Georgia professor was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor second-degree vehicular homicide for the Feb. 28, 2003, head-on crash on River Watch Parkway that killed bright young Brandon Layton. Behzadian was driving the wrong way on the divided parkway.

In a bit of role reversal, it was the 60-year-old who acted foolishly and recklessly and ended up killing a responsible 18-year-old - a "Superior Cadet of the Year" in ROTC, a part-time theater worker and a musician and band member and all-around role model.

Behzadian's blood alcohol content was only .015, well below the legal limit, but no one ever explained the remnants of stimulant and pain medication in his urine.

Regardless, this was more than a wrong turn off Stevens Creek Road at 10 o'clock at night; Behzadian traveled west for a good bit in the eastbound lanes of the divided highway before the tragic encounter just down from the Furys Ferry intersection. This was no momentary lapse; this was aggravated.

Why the jury skipped over felony vehicular homicide to convict Behzadian of two misdemeanors is one thing.

Why state law allows it is quite another.

No one in the courtroom thought ill of this jury, and neither do we. Nor can we blame District Attorney Danny Craig for swinging for the fences - knowing he might only get a double.

Moreover, it must be said that criminal courts are poor vehicles for dealing with incidents that do, after all is said and done, amount to tragic accidents.

But why the reckless killing of another human being should be a misdemeanor in the first place - along with simple battery, trespassing and writing bad checks - is beyond us anyway. It should not be an option in cases such as this.

It just feels like another horrific crash.


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