Earlier today I was waiting for that jury to return.
John Tiemann had been through three weeks of trial on two felony charges of vehicular manslaughter. The State said he was guilty of causing the deaths of Tom and Mary Woychick while driving while under the influence of drugs – diphenhydramine (Benedryl) and phenytoin (Dilantin). Each of those charges carried 15 years in prison if he was convicted, or a possible 30 years. As an alternative the State argued he was grossly negligent by driving that morning since John knew that he was blind in one eye and had limited peripheral vision in the other. Those charges could have carried 20 years. Of course the State had given John a license to drive knowing he was disabled – and John had driven without any real problem for 20 years. His medical problems precipitating that blindness were related to the removal of brain tumors in 1988.
The jury found John Tiemann not guilty of the felony counts.
It found that John had been negligent as he drove that morning – and ruled that he was guilty of two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter. John faces a potential year in jail for each count.
So was that a "win" asked the Idaho Statesman reporter.
Let’s see, the state charges you with two felonies that will subject you to up to 30 years in prison, spends three weeks in trial and argues that you committed two felonies. I guess you have to decide what constitutes a win.
I said in trial there could not really be any winner. That is true – the Woychicks were wonderful community leaders. They left behind terrific family members who undoubtedly continue to suffer a tragic loss. Nothing that would have happened in that court room could bring back Tom and Mary Woychick, but I understand the family wanted to feel that justice had been served. I remain terribly sorry for their loss.
John will be sentenced in July, and there remains much to do to prepare for that sentencing date, but for today I am relieved he will not face a potential prison sentence.