Kevin Raspperry, age 35, a Henderson resident, was accused of causing a seven-vehicle crash on October 27th. One man, a 65-year old, was killed during the crash. Raspperry is accused of DUI and being charged with second-degree murder.
Another young man, Aaron Kruse, age 24, a Las Vegas resident, is also accused of DUI and being charged with second-degree murder after he crashed on November 9th and left two people dead. According to our experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyers, these charges are much different than traditional DUI charges.
How Are the Charges Different Than Traditional DUI Charges?
Initially, each of these men was facing charges of DUI, resulting in death and reckless driving. However, District Attorney Steve Wolfson shared in a news conference that the charges were being upgraded after prosecutors reviewed the evidence and decided that each of the defendants’ actions were so incredibly reckless, they were worthy of murder charges.
Suspects Defense Attorneys Disagree With Upgraded Charges
The young men’s defense attorneys believe otherwise and claim that murder charges against DUI offenders will not hold up in court. “What the DA is doing is creating their own law,” said attorney John Watkins, a regular defender of DUI suspects. Creating their own law, rather than following the Nevada law standard punishment for DUI crashes that result in serious death or injury.
Watkins also says that the practice of charging DUI suspects with murder is “a new trend… I’m fully aware of what they are trying to do, and what they are trying to do is improper and illegal.”
Kevin Raspperry’s attorney, Craig Mueller, believes similarly: “The law says when you have a specific statute, it takes precedence over common law. This theory of liability has been specifically rejected in Nevada.”
Murder Charges for DUI On The Rise Since 2017
In May of 2017, Ronald Leavell became the very first DUI suspect to be charged with second-degree murder in Clark County. He was high on marijuana when he crashed into a 26-year-old and left him dead. Leavell’s trial is set for December 2nd of this year.
The following year, in September of 2018, Aylin Alderette was charged with second-degree murder after crashing and killing an 8-year-old boy. She pleaded guilty to this charge as well as to DUI and was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years behind bars.
DA Says DUI Circumstances Were Especially Reckless
Kevin Raspperry had two prior DUI convictions and was driving on a revoked driver’s license. His blood-alcohol level was .20, which is 2.5 times higher than the legal limit of .08 in Nevada. He also had methamphetamine, ecstasy, and marijuana in his system at the time. He was driving 85 mph at the time of the crash, and he was driving without a license; it had been revoked. His bail is set at $100,000.
As for Kruse, authorities state he was driving at 115 mph at the time of the crash and that his BAL was also .20 – 2.5 times the legal limit in Nevada. According to police, Kruse admitted he had been drinking beer and celebrating a friend’s birthday before getting in his car to drive home. He wept during the court proceedings; his bail was set at $250,000.
“Listen to my words carefully,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in the news conference. “You have choices. Designated driver… call a friend. Call a family member. Call Uber. Call Lyft… or what about not drinking that night because it is not worth it.”