After three hours of deliberations, the jury in the Samuel Corbitt trial found him guilty Friday afternoon of motor vehicle homicide in the death of Amanda Meyers.
In closing arguments, defense attorney James Martin Davis told the jury it could not hold a drunk driver responsible for an accident he did not cause. The jury didn't buy the argument, according to Davis, because of the social climate. "If you drink and then you drive chances are you’ll be convicted regardless of the evidence. There is just so much animosity toward drunk drivers.”
Prosecutors argued everything Corbitt did that night led to the death of Meyers. Jurors had three options, guilty of motor vehicle homicide, guilty of manslaughter or not guilty. The jury agreed with prosecutors and convicted Corbitt of motor vehicle homicide.
The defense had argued that the jury could not hold the 36-year-old Corbitt of Omaha responsible for Meyers' death because the fatal accident was her fault, saying she pulled out onto Pacific Street from 64th Avenue near Elmwood Park on the night of September 28, 2010 when Corbitt had the right of way.
Corbitt's blood-alcohol level was recorded at .210. The 18-year-old Meyers of Bellevue, although a minor, had also been drinking that evening. She tested at .073.
After the verdict was read, prosecutors moved to revoke Corbitt's bond. The judge denied that, but did increase the cost of the bond from $25,000 to $250,000.
Leaving the courtroom after hearing the verdict, Meyers’ family and friends felt a sense of relief that nearly two years after the crash they have a measure of justice. “That’s what we’re looking for," said Bob Meyers, Amanda's uncle. "Their family loses a son, we lost our niece. There are no winners in it, but I think it is the way it is supposed to be.”
Corbitt will be sentenced on November 2nd. He faces up to 50 years in prison.
Although they were in the same car in the same crash, Meyers' friends have very different perspectives on the collision that killed her. Earlier this week, Lindsay Schilling testified that Amanda stopped and then pulled forward to see around an obstruction when they were hit.
Schilling's boyfriend at the time Joseph Beaudoin, told the jury a different story. Beaudoin said Meyers failed to stop and rolled through the intersection into the path of Corbitt's car.
The jurors also saw the photos of the crash site and the destruction of both vehicles. They watched Amanda's family wipe tears from their eyes during some of the testimony.
Corbitt took the stand in his defense on Thursday and described a night drinking with a friend, but little else. After seeing a car pull in front of him, Corbitt testified he didn't remember a thing.