This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A judge has dismissed a negligent homicide charge against a 33-year-old Neola man whose passenger was killed in a July 2012 car accident.
Trinity Bird was charged in 4th District Court with negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor, and failure to stay in one lane, a class C misdemeanor.
However, Judge Derek Pullan ruled Wednesday that the charges would be dismissed because there was not enough evidence for Bird to stand trial.
According to court documents, Bird was driving his 2003 Buick west on U.S. Route 40 in Wasatch County about 10:30 p.m. on July 6.
Bird told police he "looked away for a second" to reach for a cigarette that had fallen. Bird's car swerved to the right shoulder and hit the rear left corner of a semi-truck that had been parked in the shoulder while the driver secured his load.
Matthew Mecham was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car at the time of the accident, and was flown by helicopter to a hospital. He died later that night.
Also injured was Ronnie Melo, who was sitting in Bird's back seat. She was also taken by helicopter for treatment, and survived. It's unknown if the passengers were wearing seat belts, according to court documents.
Defense attorney John Easton argued in court documents that the state did not prove at a preliminary hearing that Bird was driving recklessly because his car only left his lane once and for a brief amount of time. He also argued that the state did not prove that Bird drove recklessly or negligently, since he had only looked away for a moment to pick up a cigarette. Easton noted in his argument that no law has ever been passed that declared smoking while driving inherently reckless.
After Pullan heard arguments from prosecutors and Easton, he sided with the defense and dismissed the charges, according to court documents.