Jurors have acquitted a motorist even though he was drunk and most likely speeding last July 4th, when his car went into a central Minnesota lake, where his girlfriend with him was found dead.
After the five-day trial and roughly three hours of deliberations, David S. Hamil, 42, of Coral Lake, Fla., was found not guilty Monday night by an Otter Tail County jury on all four counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of 29-year-old Holly N. Homewood, of New Waverly, Texas.
Hamil also was acquitted of careless driving, but was convicted of drunken driving.
The crash occurred about 1:30 a.m. on the east side of Franklin Lake, about 10 miles northeast of Pelican Rapids.
Defense attorney Christopher Cadem noted that the jurors acquitted his client after prosecution experts testified that Hamil was driving 89 miles per hour and had a blood alcohol content of .147 percent at the time of the crash, nearly two times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Michelle Eldien said Wednesday that jurors agreed with the defense that the crash’s primary cause was Homewood hitting Hamil in a jealous rage while he was behind the wheel and approaching a curve in the road.
“We have a dead lady who’s the only witness and a defendant who is there and can say whatever,” Eldien said. “The defendant said ‘she hit me.’ I don’t buy it, but at the same time, there’s not a lot more the officers [at the scene] or anyone can say about that.”
Eldien said that even if Homewood was hitting Hamil at the time, “I don’t care. … He wouldn’t have been able to [negotiate] that curve at that speed.”
Defense attorney Cadem said, “At the end of the day, the jury never lost sight of the real issues in the case and they absolutely made the right decision.”
Hamil is scheduled to be sentenced on May 26. With roughly five months of time served in jail after his arrest, it’s “very unlikely” he’ll serve any additional time in custody, Eldien said.
In its charges, the county attorney’s office said Hamil smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred at the scene. He repeatedly refused to take a preliminary breath test but was forced to submit to a blood draw to measure his alcohol consumption.
Hamil said he had two drinks and had taken a prescription drug earlier that evening that mimics some effects of drinking.
He also told authorities soon after the crash that he and Homewood, while staying at a cabin for the week, were at a bar where a woman hugged him. He described Homewood as a jealous person, prompting her to hit him six or seven times as he drove.
Approaching the curve on southbound County Road 31, Hamil continued, he lost sight of the road and went into the lake. He said he got out of the car and tried in vain to find Homewood.