Montgomery v. State
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
369 S.W.3d 188 (2012)
Jeri Dawn Montgomery (defendant) was driving her SUV down a three-lane service road adjacent to a major highway while talking on her cell phone. She hung up the phone and realized she had missed her entrance ramp to the highway. Montgomery abruptly swerved into the left lane to try to get onto the ramp, even though she had already driven into the solid-white-lined area on the road between the service road and ramp, also known as the safety barrier, an area in which drivers were not permitted to change lanes. While swerving into the left lane, Montgomery cut off another driver who was already in the left lane. He could not stop in time and rear-ended Montgomery, pushing Montgomery’s SUV onto the entrance ramp, where her SUV hit a truck. A passenger in that truck was ejected from his vehicle and died at the scene. Montgomery was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, with the state alleging that she caused the accident by making an unsafe lane change and failing to keep a proper lookout. Montgomery appealed, and the first appellate court found the evidence insufficient to sustain the conviction, holding that the state erred by focusing on Montgomery’s cell-phone use while failing to introduce evidence that driving while on the phone increased the risk of a fatal accident. The appellate court rendered a judgment of acquittal, and the state appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)
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