• Text messages used to convict teen driver of manslaughter

    Date: 11.25.13 | by Judge Tom.

    Once again we read about text messaging catching up with someone who didn’t think about consequences. In this case, the messages were sent moments before a fatal traffic accident.

    In  2011, 19 year-old Roberto Salamanca of Flagstaff, Arizona was driving drunk at speeds greater than 80 miles per hour. He was upset after a fight with his girlfriend. He sent two angry and profane  text messages to her within minutes of crashing his car.

    Salamanca weaved in and out of traffic, lost control of his car and crossed over four lanes crashing head-on into another car. The 20-year old driver of the second car died at a local hospital soon after the accident. He was a college student, ironically studying criminal justice. Salamanca fled the scene but when caught registered a .19 blood alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit.

    Roberto Salamanca

    Roberto Salamanca

    He was indicted for second degree murder and related charges. He was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. On appeal, Salamanca challenged the admission of the two text messages. The first was sent two minutes before the crash and the second was sent 59 seconds before the crash.

    In October, 2013 the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and sentence including the admission of the texts as “intrinsic” to the charges against Salamanca. The court wrote in its opinion that “The jury could have concluded that the act of sending the text or handling his cell phone caused Salamanca to lose control of his vehicle.” Regarding the jury seeing his profanities in the messages, the court said “The profanity tended to show that Salamanca was angry as he was driving just before the collision and that this anger caused him to drive recklessly.”

     

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    • Text messages used to convict teen driver of manslaughter | Law Offices of David R. Bach, P.C.
      Mon, 25 Nov 2013 at 10:00

      […] Text messages used to convict teen driver of manslaughter […]

    • TEXT MESSAGES USED TO CONVICT TEEN DRIVER OF MANSLAUGHTER | reportergary.com
      Tue, 26 Nov 2013 at 08:41

      […] Once again we read about text messaging catching up with someone who didn’t think about consequences. In this case, the messages were sent moments before a fatal traffic accident.  19 year-old Roberto Salamanca of Flagstaff, Arizona was driving drunk at speeds greater than 80 miles per hour. He was upset after a fight with his girlfriend. He sent two angry and profane  text messages to her within minutes of crashing his car.  Read more here. […]

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