Defendant Betty Quick, 18, was found not guilty by the jury today, Nov. 6, at the Cole County Court House in Cole County, MO. Six days prior to the trial, there was an automobile accident involving Quick and a passenger, Sally Rider, 17, in the Rock Bridge High School parking lot in Columbia, MO. The driver was alleged to be texting while driving, resulting in the crash.
The trial prosecutor, Brett Stover argued that the distraction of the driver’s cell phone was indeed the cause of the accident. Also, since Quick had a passenger in her vehicle, she was being charged for second degree assault, a class C felony.
“The definition of second degree assault is that with the intent or recklessness, someone causes serious physical injury,” Stover said. “And I believe that we have proven … this was recklessness. Texting while driving is reckless.”
The passenger in the vehicle, Rider, sustained severe injuries including a fractured vertebrae and a contusion to the forehead. Today Rider testified in court saying that she was in “significant pain” following the crash. She also confirmed that Quick was indeed texting while driving. According to Colonel Williams, the police investigator on the scene of the crime, the text message sent from Quick’s phone was sent five minutes prior to police dispatch.
“We found … a phone with a message that said, ‘we will be there in five minutes’ from B.Quick sent at 11.25 a.m.,” Williams said. “There was blood on the windshield from someone’s head. There were no stretch marks on the seat belt showing that the driver was possibly not wearing a seat belt. The passenger had an injury on the left side of the body.”
In addition to the threat of distracted driving, there was allegedly a dog which ran in front of Quick’s car, which the defense used to support their case in favor of the defendant.
“There was a dog that came in the way, and wouldn’t it be out of someone’s good nature to try and dodge and miss the dog?” John Rhea, defense attorney said. “Such as a little kid kicking a soccer ball in the middle of the street, you’re going to want to dodge and not hit the poor kid.”
The jury took all of this information into consideration when making the final decision of the case. The defendant stated that it is possible that she sent a text message while the vehicle she was operating was stopped at a stop sign, not while driving. However, Stover holds that she was still operating a motor vehicle, therefore violating the law.
“She willingly and knowingly endangered someone’s life,” Stover said. “She was willing to put this phone … ahead of her life and she was willing to risk death to text. She caused serious physical injury to her friend.”
At the end of the trial, the jury decided that the defendant, Betty Quick, was not guilty of second degree assault due insufficient evidence against her.
By Brittany Cornelison, Brayden Parker and Afsah Khan
Notice: this is a portion of the Missouri Supreme Court Constitution Project and all facts and the event itself are fictional.
For a more detailed report of the crime, click here
For an initial reaction to the crime scene, click here
For a look at the press conference, click here