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Sep 27, 2012 10:55 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Charge Against Driver In Fatal East Hampton Accident To Be Dropped

Oct 2, 2012 4:11 PM

A driver whose pickup truck hit a car head-on in July in East Hampton, killing the other driver, will no longer face criminal charges, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney said on Thursday.

An investigation has shown that Brian K. Midgett Jr. had not been using his cellphone at the time of the crash and tests showed he tested negative for alcohol and active drugs, Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Robert Spota, said.

East Hampton Town Police had charged Mr. Midgett with driving while ability was impaired by drugs. Douglas Foster Schneiderman, 51, of Virginia was killed when Mr. Midgett’s pickup truck crossed the center line and collided with Mr. Schneiderman’s car. Mr. Schneiderman’s wife and daughter were injured, as was Mr. Midgett.

“Given the negative results of the toxicology tests and this office’s determination, from an analysis of cellphone records, that the defendant had not in fact used his phone prior to or at the moment of the collision, the People will not pursue criminal charges against Mr. Midgett,” Mr. Clifford said in an email.

The charge of driving while ability impaired by drugs will be dropped in East Hampton Town Justice Court. Susan Menu, Mr. Midgett’s attorney, said she expected the charge to be dismissed on Wednesday, October 3.

Mr. Clifford said the toxicology test did reveal a “THC metabolite that would be consistent with marijuana use approximately two days before the crash,” but nothing demonstrating that drugs or alcohol played a factor in the crash.

Mr. Midgett was scheduled to be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court in August, but his arraignment was adjourned at the request of Ms. Menu at that time. According to Mr. Clifford, the DA’s office was waiting at that time for phone records it had subpoenaed to determine if Mr. Midgett was speaking on a cellphone or texting at the time of the crash.

“The court will have to dismiss it,” Ms. Menu said on Thursday of the appearance ticket issued the day of the accident. She said Mr. Midgett had been tested for both drugs and alcohol at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries, so there was nothing to support the charges against him.

Although the assistant district attorney will join Ms. Menu in requesting a dismissal, Mr. Clifford said, it will “put on the record that, based on Mr. Midgett’s crossing into oncoming traffic, the observations of police with respect to his physical appearance, as well as the presence of an empty prescription bottle for hydrocodone in the car, the police appear to have had reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Midgett was driving while his ability was impaired.

“The lack of corroborating evidence, however, will not allow the People to meet our legal burden to prove this case,” Mr. Clifford wrote.

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Another example of the cops' charging DWI (of BOTH alcohol and drugs, in this case) when there is no evidence to support the charge.

This farcical s.o.p. has to stop. STPD cops did the same thing in a fatal accident last year. Have the cops forgotten that one is supposed to deduce conduct from evidence and not vice-versa?
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Sep 27, 12 12:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Sep 27, 12 1:43 PM
Think about what you just posted. The cops are allowed to charge based on "safe assumptions" instead of facts?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Sep 27, 12 2:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
wow. murder? my understanding is that the facts show he was not drunk, not on drugs and not on the phone. and based on this, you think its fair to make an assumption that he murdered someone?
By tm (174), mtk on Sep 27, 12 2:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
Sigh...I apparently do not communicate clearly here.

I meant an assumption for THE POLICE to make, not me. It's called PROBABLE CAUSE. Yes, it proved to NOT TO BE VALID in this case, but imagine how many criminals would be on the streets without the allowance of probable cause.

If the police hadn't arrested him and the tests came back positive, and let's say he fled the country or caused another fatal accident in the meantime, then who would you blame for not arresting him in ...more
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Sep 28, 12 12:01 AM
I dont know anything about police procedure, but wouldnt it make sense to get the tox results back before you charge someone? I agree with highhat on this one. ( WOW) :)
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 27, 12 2:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
The police would need to charge the person first in order to request the toxicology report and search the phone records. This way they can get a search warrant and the search would be limited to only finding out information related to what he is charged with.
Also, Mr. Midgett was given an appearance ticket that listed the charges against him and told to appear at court on a date in August. That court date was postponed as the DA did not get the results back yet. Now that the results are back, ...more
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Sep 28, 12 12:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who do you think should pay the legal fees? The driver that was not drunk, high or on the cell phone? I can assure you he is getting the bill. Is that fair? Why not get the results before incorrectly assuming he was at fault?
By ReelT (8), Hampton Bays on Sep 27, 12 2:52 PM
That's why the DA's office went WAY OUT OF THEIR WAY to say there was probable cause for issuing that "appearance ticket" - and Ms. Menu, an experienced defense attorney, pointed out that had her client BEEN ABLE to appear - which he was not - the Court could and most likely would have (given the Judge, Jury, and Hangwoman Judge that this landed in front of) "formally" accused him and set bail. The ignorant comment by Q333 using the word "murder" is so out of line it makes me shiver. S/he should ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 27, 12 6:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
So much for the presumtion of innocence. If he was illegal he could just run and get away with it. But sice he is a law abiding citizen he must pay tio be in the right.
By ReelT (8), Hampton Bays on Sep 27, 12 2:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Now I want to know -- how do you just cross over into oncoming traffic and hit a car head on without being distracted? I'm not being facetious, I just don't understand. I've been driving for many, many years and have never entered oncoming traffic and smashed into anyone. Has it always been this common?

BTW, is there anyway to tell if someone was fiddling with the music on their iPhone or iPod? Just wondering.
By btdt (449), water mill on Sep 28, 12 4:22 PM
yup, there are plenty of other tasks to accomplish in our busy lives, and these MUST be done at the same time as driving . . .

. . . fiddling with something, making notes on a pad on the passenger's seat, reaching into the back seat to adjust a loose surfboard, fussing with the kids in the back seat, looking in the rear view mirror for too long, putting on make up, swatting a fly, etc. etc. . . .

A tragic accident.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 28, 12 6:37 PM