Alaska man fined $300 after jury acquits in fatal crash
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man has been fined $300 for his role in a fatal vehicle crash after he was acquitted of manslaughter.
Christopher Turkette, 42, of Anchorage was acquitted by a jury earlier this month, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson gave Turkette the highest fine for reckless driving.
Turkette’s vehicle collided with a motorcycle driven by 30-year-old Douglas J. Bittinger, who died at the scene in August 2017, authorities said.
Turkette had a flashing yellow light while Bittinger had a green light, authorities said.
Charges were filed about six months after the accident when blood test results showed marijuana in Turkette’s system, police said.
The judge said both the defense and prosecution foreshadowed difficulties with the law because “there wasn’t a clear, bright line for a drug DUI like there is for alcohol.”
There are limits to the amount of THC allowed in blood tests in some other states with legal recreational marijuana, but Alaska does not have a defined legal limit.
“There is no doubt in certain factors in this case,” Peterson said. “There is no doubt that you had active THC in your system and there isn’t any doubt even from your own expert, who said you caused the accident. Now, whether or not it was criminal was a decision for the jury to make and they’ve made that decision.”
Bittinger’s parents said during Monday’s sentencing hearing that the verdict made them feel hopeless.
“He gets nothing more than a slap on the hand for killing my kid,” Bittinger’s mother said.