Aggravated vehicular homicide trial gets under way
A trial is underway for a Youngstown man charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with the death of a well-known area social worker.
Eric Brady, 26, of East Avondale Avenue, is charged with failure to stop after an accident and aggravated vehicular homicide in the 2009 death of social worker Kim Sullivan. Prosecutors and defense counsel chose a jury Tuesday and offered opening statements to the jury Wednesday.
Sullivan, 42, of Austintown, died Jan. 18, 2009, after an accident that took place about 7 a.m. in the 100 block of South Meridian Road.
Robert Andrews, an assistant county prosecutor, told jurors the case is factually straightforward and based almost solely on the belief that Brady operated a motor vehicle carelessly and caused the death of Sullivan.
“The facts are not complicated here,” he said. “Kimberly Sullivan lost her life when the vehicle she was driving was struck by the vehicle the defendant was driving ... this is not a murder or a drive-by shooting. ... It’s not about the defendant, but about what he did not do.”
Andrews said what Brady did not do was drive his car with proper care on a snowy winter morning in the early morning hours just before the sun came up. He said Brady was driving in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit when he crossed lanes and struck Sullivan’s vehicle.
Andrews said Brady left his vehicle after the accident, briefly spoke to a few bystanders and then ran off and hid from police. He was found later laying in the snow behind a building a short distance from the accident.
Atty. Mark Lavelle, representing Brady said there is a completely different way to view all the facts in the case.
Lavelle told jurors he was familiar with Sullivan, having worked with her on several occasions as she served as an advocate for those in domestic-violence situations. He described Sullivan as a delight and a beautiful woman, and said it cannot be helped but to feel sorry for her family, but those feelings cannot go so far as to hold someone unfairly responsible for her death, he said.
“The fact that there was an accident is not in and of itself reckless,” he said.
Lavelle told jurors they will hear testimony that his client was not speeding and that the victim was, in fact, speeding just before the accident.
Lavelle also said his client did not attempt to leave the scene of the accident. He said Brady was dazed and confused from the accident, wandered off and laid in the snow until police found him. He said Brady had been treated for a concussion and has no recollection of the accident.
Robin Brady, Eric Brady’s mother, spoke to The Vindicator earlier in the week, saying she is convinced her son is facing such stiff legal penalties because of the victim’s position and connections in the community. She said her son was not drinking, and she does not believe he was speeding.
Robin Brady said she has been appointed as the legal guardian for her son, who she says has had permanent damage and memory loss since the accident.