U.S. Navy Petty Officer, Richard Freeman has been acquitted on DUI and aggravated involuntary manslaughter charges relating to a July 2009 motor vehicle crash that killed two passengers. Freeman was driving a BMW that crashed into a tree. Freeman was carrying four passengers at the time.
Fellow sailor, Cameron Richardson and a nurse, Lauren Kok died in the crash. A third passenger, Tom Jaskel was paralyzed and suffered brain damage. A fourth passenger, Ryan Petrosky was not injured in the crash. Freemen himself received only cuts and bruises.
A prosecution witness testified at trial that Freeman’s blood alcohol level (0.13) exceeded the state limit for drunk driving (0.08). Freeman claimed that he had stopped drinking two hours before getting behind the wheel of his car.
At trial Freeman’s attorney described the passengers as loud and disruptive. Freeman also stated that he blacked out behind the wheel after being struck in the head prior to crashing into a tree.
Despite the civil court acquittal, the Navy is moving ahead with plans for a Freeman Court Martial. Military prosecutors have recommended that Freeman be brought up on three charges of “drunken or reckless operation of a vehicle” and “two counts of bring discredit upon the armed services.”
Rear Admiral Tim Alexander will ultimately make the decision about whether to move forward with a Freeman court martial. Notably, military prospections can take place concurrently with a civilian prosecution on the same incident because the two are not considered a single sovereign entity.
For more details on the case, visit HamptonRoads.com