A trial for a 30-year-old Provo man accused of killing a pedestrian while texting and driving on a college campus is set for November, but Cade Myles Krueger will not be standing trial on negligent homicide charges.
Initially, the Utah County Attorney’s Office charged Krueger with class A misdemeanor negligent homicide, as well as text messaging or emailing while driving, a class C misdemeanor.
In May, however, following oral arguments and a preliminary hearing, 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock ruled there was not enough evidence to show Krueger was texting at the moment his car hit 28-year-old Jessica Raylene Wilson and another woman on the Brigham Young University campus. Wilson was killed in the Sept. 19, 2010 accident.
Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor said Wednesday he felt that one of the problems with the case hinged on the way the texting and driving law was written in 2010. Prosecutors had to prove that a driver was texting at the exact moment the vehicle caused an accident.
"The language on that previous statute made it a lot more difficult, in my opinion," Taylor said.
But in May 2012, an amended version of the law took effect, which makes it illegal to be doing anything on a hand-held wireless communication device while driving except making or receiving a call, or using GPS navigation.
Taylor said that while it would be "speculation" to say whether he felt Krueger would have been ordered to stand trial based on the amended law, he said it is a better statute because it is more broad.
He said Laycock’s dismissal of the negligent homicide count was "a huge blow to the case."
"We brought the charges based upon the evidence that we felt showed that he was distracted when he hit the girls," Taylor said. "We were disappointed, but we’re going forward."
Defense attorney Douglas Thayer said Krueger and his defense team were "very pleased" with Laycock’s decision.
"I think this is a real tragedy," Thayer said Wednesday. "This girl lost her life. It’s just a tough thing, but we think the filing of the negligent homicide was a bit of a travesty in that they didn’t really have the evidence."
Laycock did find probable cause that Krueger was texting and driving before the accident, and she ordered him to stand trial on the class C misdemeanor. On Wednesday, Krueger appeared in Provo’s 4th District Court and a Nov. 7 trial date was set.
Thayer said his client was not texting before the accident, but was distracted by the noise of a horn to his left moments before he struck the women.
If convicted of the class C misdemeanor texting while driving charge, Krueger faces a maximum of three months in jail.
Negligent homicide carries a maximum punishment of up to a year behind bars.
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