Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

If It Was a Bootleg, at least the MPAA Would Get Him  | e-mail post

Last week, Alaska jurors acquitted Erwin Petterson, Jr of two counts of murder and manslaughter. He killed two people by crossing the center line in his truck while watching a DVD. He claims he crossed over the line when reaching for a soda (although it may have been popcorn or Raisinets). I'm sure this guy is probably not a Nobel contender, but, honestly, it should only take an extra couple of brain cells to grab the soda.

My favorite line in the whole AP report [via CNN] [via CBS] was:
Neither Petterson nor his lawyer could immediately be reached for comment after the acquittal. Lindsey Petterson said her brother was taking a long drive in his truck.

"He hasn't been able to drive in over two years," she said.
That's right, two years with no truck. He was probably really behind on his movie list. (Yes, I am speechless he still has a license.) Possibly even better though was this line from Reuters:
"I think it's interesting that the defendant wants his DVD player back so he can put it in another vehicle," June Stein, the assistant district attorney who tried the case, said.
Honestly, what I think is really interesting is that June Stein couldn't even get any sort of a conviction out of this. Or, maybe the soda defense is one we should all keep in mind. ("Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client may have been drunk, but for the love of all that is holy, you have to understand he was reaching for a soda when he killed those people.")

Of course, this is also classic just from a legal hair-splitting standpoint. Dashboard-mounted televisions are illegal in Alaska, but dash-mounted DVD players (with attached screens) are not. (Even though Petterson had overriden the safety features on the player to prevent its operation while the car was out of park.)

I need to stop now. This is just one of those stories that if I think too much about it, I want to move to a cave on a Nepalese mountaintop.

If you were curious what movie was worth two lives, it was apparently Road Trip. Now that is really disappointing. Also, while Petterson plans to reinstall his DVD player, there is no news about whether he will be allowed cupholders in his vehicles.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Tuesday, August 17, 2004
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