Faultly convictions due to GM ignition failure get overturned

Zachary Stevens’ 2007 Saturn after crashing head-on into a pickup truck. Source: Josh Davis Law Firm via Bloomberg

Imagine you are driving when your car unexpectedly goes out of control and the resulting wreck kills people. You say the car became unresponsive where power steering and the brakes do not work. While crashing, the airbags fail to deploy.

The police do not believe you and you get charged and convicted of manslaughter. You even spend time in prison.

That is what happened to a few people where some were teenagers. While they survived the accident, their lives were in many cases ruined. 

The good news is that the details on the GM ignition fiasco is allowing some of those people to have the convictions overturned and are rightly suing GM for compensation. From Bloomberg:

Like Ward-Green, Daniel Perkins was charged, convicted and jailed long before GM issued its first ignition switch recalls in 2014.

Perkins, then 18, was driving a 2006 Cobalt in Camillus, New York, in May 2006 when he lost control and went off the road. The car rolled over, injuring him and killing his best friend, Joseph Doerfler, also 18. The air bags didn’t deploy.

Perkins pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and was jailed for six months. He has since accepted an undisclosed settlement from the GM fund, as has Doerfler’s family, according to his lawyer, Sidney Cominsky.

Perkins spent “nine years in purgatory,” Cominsky said, and now plans to ask GM for help in overturning the conviction.

Cominsky said GM’s settlement brought some peace of mind to his client. “I wish I could say he jumped for joy when he heard,” Cominsky said. “He just sat there teary-eyed and said, ‘I knew it wasn’t my fault.’”

Zachary Stevens, 19, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. Despite the GM recall being public,Police still arrested him and wanted to charge him with Manslaugher by “intentionally driving” in a reckless manner. Mr Stevens was on the way to bible study.

When I first heard about the GM case, I thought it only impacted the families who had lost loved ones in accidents. The Bloomberg story puts another light on the horrible injustice inflicted on innocent drivers and subsequently prosecuted.

We hope the all find resolution.