A woman from the Chicago suburbs is accused of causing a chain-reaction car crash that ultimately killed two motorcyclists. And at a hearing on Wednesday, a judge ruled that the cannabis in her system can be brought up at trial.
Prosecutors have made it clear that they don't believe marijuana caused Alia Bernard, age 26, to hit a car on the morning of May 23, 2009. Two cars were stopped in front of her, turning left off Illinois Highway 47 in Kane County; Bernard allegedly slammed the rear car into the front one, pushing it in the way of a line of motorcyclists. Wade Thomas and his wife Denise were killed on his bike, according to news reports at the time.
If anything, prosecutors say, Bernard was apparently texting at or around the time of the collision, which may have prevented her from keeping a proper lookout.
But in addition to reckless homicide, she is also being charged with DUI, after blood tests detected some cannabis in her system.
According to the Chicago Tribune, defense attorneys argued that since the cannabis didn't lead to the crash, it should be tried separately. “The DUI has no relationship to the reckless homicide other than to inflame the passions of the jury,” said lawyer Bruce Brandwein, who represents Bernard. He worried that the evidence could prejudice the jury against his client.
Judge Allen Anderson sided with the prosecution in the matter. “Essentially I’m being asked to sanitize what the facts may or may not have been,” he said, as the suburban Daily Herald reports. “I don’t think it rises to the level that would deny the defendant a fair trial.”
The trial is scheduled to begin on June 13.