Pigeon Forge manager convicted of reckless homicide in accidental death

Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:09 PM | Contributed by Jeff

After four days of testimony from 26 witnesses, the panel of nine men and three women opted not to convict Charles Stanley Martin of second-degree murder for the death of June Alexander, who fell 60 feet to her death from a ride after her harness came loose in midair as her family watched. The jury was convinced that the defendant bypassed safety systems that caused the accident.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 10:14 AM
I'm not surprised that the second degree murder conviction didn't come through, but a I am surprised that the maximum sentence for the conviction is only 4 years. I guessing that you could get more time than that for simple drug posession or a dozen other non-violent crimes. I think that this is one case where the maximum sentence is probably appropriate.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:22 PM
I find it “unusual” that the ride operator present during the accident was never called to the stand, or for that matter charged with the same crime for his obvious failure to ensure the safety harness was secure. I would have thought he would have a lot of useful information for the jury.

Anyhow, in a case like this, somebody was going to have to pay. Juries don’t take to kindly to orphaned children in the courtroom. My guess is that this guy placed the “jumper” that bypassed the safety system, but certainly I do not feel this way beyond reasonable doubt.

I can’t help but think that this case punished a man who altered a “secondary” safety feature while the person who was negligent with the “primary” safety feature (the act of physically checking restraints) walks away without so much as a charge.

None of this brings back a life. The whole situation is tragic and completely preventable with just the minimal amount of human caring and common sense.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005 9:13 PM
While there was a lot of talk in the trial about the jumped out safety, there were apparently a lot of other "maintenance issues" that helped to build the view that management was responsible. The CPSC report apparently indicated that the operator did check the restraints. Also, I've personally experienced restraints that appeared to be secured by my own test as well as the operators that later released during the ride, fortunately not one where I needed them as badly as you would on this ride.

One possible reason for not calling the operator to the stand is that he could still be prosecuted at some time in the future. Supposed that management or maintenance was responsible for the condition of the ride, but the operator knew about at least some of the issues. Without an a grant of immunity, he would probably just take the fifth amendment. If anything this would have weakened the prosecution's case as it might have appeared that the operator was completely responisble.

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