Criminal: BERRYMAN V. COMMONWEALTH (SC 11/1/2007)

CRIMINAL:  Extreme indifference to human life
DATE RENDERED:  11/1/2007

SC affirmed Berryman’s convictions and 45 year sentence for wanton murder and assault in the first degree. TC did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict. The evidence in this case showed that Berryman (1) drove at an alarmingly high rate of speed ; (2) ignored the conditions of the road and other vehicles ahead; (3) made no effort to brake or swerve before overtaking and ramming the Deatons’ vehicle, even though the Deatons’ vehicle was visible; and (4) had traces of Xanax in his system. Berryman’s egregious misconduct is obviously evidence of more than just a driver who had an accident while speeding and not paying close attention to the road. Instead, Berryman’s tragic misconduct clearly manifests an extreme indifference to human life.

TC did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to exclude evidence regarding illicit pills. Although the drug-related charges against Berryman had been severed, the evidence about the drugs was still relevant to prove that Berryman’s conduct rose to the level of wantonness necessary for murder and assault in the first-degree convictions.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
Olgin and Byrd

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