Manager indicted on murder charge for May Pigeon Forge death

Posted Thursday, September 30, 2004 10:42 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A grand jury has indicted a Piegon Forge Rocking Raceway manager for second degree murder and reckless homicide after an accident in March. A woman fell to her death from a Zamperla Hawk when the harness let go.

Read more from WBIR/Knoxville.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 11:25 AM
Whoa. Maybe I don't know enough about this incident but...2nd degree murder? I am not legal expert but doesn't that require some type of intent to inflict harm or malice?

This is stunning to me.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 12:14 PM
According to a quote I saw elsewhere, 2nd degree murder includes something along the lines of, "Knowingly doing something that causes someone to die."

If that actually is the case, hypothetically, since there was a previously reported incident (look towards the end of the article) with the harness system. Perhaps the manager never had maintenance done in regards to that problem which sounds quite similar to what happened in March to the victim.

Again, hypothetically, if that was the case, I could see a grand jury filing those charges.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 1:13 PM
Jeff's avatar I think then it would depend on his qualifications. I can manage rides, but that doesn't mean I'd be qualified to inspect them or be able to tell that the work was done.
Thursday, September 30, 2004 2:12 PM
Well, an indictment doesn't look at that aspect, Jeff.

It only looks at whether there is a possibility that the person might have committed the act in question. A grand jury acts only in placing charges, the indictment does not imply guilt any more than a bench issued warrant.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 3:22 PM
rollergator's avatar I would IMAGINE that a more reasonably *winnable* prosecution would be for "negligent homicide", which in most jurisdictions qualifies as manslaughter (aka third-degree murder). Normally, second-degree reflects "under severe emotional distress", or what is often referred to as "in a fit of passion/rage"....

For the second-degree charge to stick, I would *guess* that the NEEDED maintenance was intentionally blown off....what would be called "with wanton disregard for human life or safety".....that's going to require a considerable burden of proof.

I'll go with the likeliest of possibilities, that the case will end in a plea bargain, with a lesser charge being agreed to by the prosecution and the defense....

Thursday, September 30, 2004 4:47 PM
Gator, according to the video from the main news story link, the reporter said the Attorney General said (Yes, I know don't trust everything reporters say) that "...someone could be charged with second degree murder if they act in a way they know someone could die - intentionally or not."
Thursday, September 30, 2004 10:24 PM
I'm no expert on legal issues related to murder, but second degree murder does seem like a bit much. I have heard of this before though in the case of an industrial accident where the disregard for safety was so deliberate and so great that it was felt that the death was not a question of if, only when.

Of course, murcer laws vary from state to state. In Georgia you can be charged with murder for not trying to prevent someone from murdering someone else.

Friday, October 1, 2004 9:32 AM
Again read my post...I sead read towards the end of this article where it says,

The incident that claimed Alexander's life wasn't the first time "The Hawk" was alleged to have malfunctioned. In July 2003 an Indiana man was aboard the ride when his safety device loosened, according to a report filed by Pigeon Forge police.

The man wasn't injured, but he wanted to make a report because "he was concerned that it may be a safety risk in the future since the ride swings people upside down so far above the ground," the report said.

Friday, October 1, 2004 11:51 AM
rollergator's avatar George....assuming that the *required* fixes from the previous incident were NOT done, I guess I'm willing to go along with the more serious charge. I'm still doubtful he'd be CONVICTED of 2nd degree since there was no INTENTION to cause harm, but that's up to the jury to decide at this point....

If I had been on the Grand Jury indicting for this offense, I *now* can see where I could be convinced to file the 2nd-degree charge though...

As noted, the JURISDICTION (and the DAs office) is critical to deciding WHAT would be presented to the Grand Jury for indictment...this guy is in SERIOUS trouble if he can't show where he ordered repairs after the prior incident...

....all that being said, I still expect him to plead guilty to manslaughter and get 7-10 years...

bill, watches WAYYYY too much Law and Order...;)

Friday, October 1, 2004 12:09 PM
But again, Bill according to the video in the main news link, the reporter stated that the Attorney General said that intent does not need to be proven. Laws are different in every state, what is Murder 2 in one state might not be the same in another...

All I can guess is that the AG asked for maintenance records following the earlier accident to see if any work was done in regards to the prior complaint and they could not provide any.*** This post was edited by redman822 10/1/2004 12:09:41 PM ***

Saturday, October 16, 2004 9:41 PM
The case should be dismissed, all charges dropped, and let the insurance company pay for the death. If that doesn't happen what good is insurance. Before people step on to these rides they should read the sign where it says ride at your own risk.

Thrill seeking has its risk. And the family should only get what the insurance company offers. There is no reason why a man's life should be ruined over something that was not intentional. *** This post was edited by freddy vega 10/16/2004 9:42:53 PM ***


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