After mistrial, driver seeks to dismiss vehicular homicide case
A decision hangs in the balance over whether to take a West Manchester Township man to trial again on allegations his reckless driving led to a fatal crash that left a construction worker dead.
After an initial mistrial two months ago, Aaron Miller, 40, faces a second trial on charges of felony vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter and summary counts of reckless driving, careless driving and careless driving causing unintentional death.
Miller’s attorney, though, asked a judge to dismiss the homicide and manslaughter charges.
In a motion filed last Friday, Christopher Ferro argued York County District Attorney’s Office attorneys didn’t prove their case, including the elements to meet the homicide by vehicle count, during Miller’s trial in April. He said the theory that Miller fell asleep while driving was speculation at best.
“There is insufficient evidence for a jury to support a finding of guilt,” Ferro stated in his habeas corpus motion.
Miller was charged in February 2021 following an investigation into the crash.
West Manchster Township police said he was driving an SUV when he allegedly drifted through a construction zone in the 400 block of Carlisle Avenue and struck Joshua Bishop, 34, from behind and killed him in May 2020. Bishop, of Lancaster County, was working traffic control at the site at the time.
Police said Miller appeared “very groggy” after the crash, and he allegedly told them he must have fallen asleep at the wheel after working about 16 hours at an Air Force base in Willow Grove.
Investigators found Miller wasn’t distracted by a mobile phone, that he was driving about 36 mph when Bishop was struck, but that he didn’t hit his brakes or try to avoid the collision, according to the allegations.
Miller went to trial April 4, and the mistrial was declared two days later during the D.A.’s Office’s case. Ferro noted in his motion, the lead investigator in the case and final prosecution witness gave “non-responsive” answers that implicated Miller’s Constitutional right to remain silent.
Ferro alleged evidence in the case failed to show Miller acted recklessly during what he said was an accident in order to meet the elements for vehicular homicide as well as involuntary manslaughter.
“There should be, and is, a firm boundary between reckless conduct required for a charge of homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter, and the negligence or even careless driving that results in an accident,” Ferro said.
York County DA spokesman Kyle King declined to comment on the case, saying the office doesn't comment on pending litigation.
The two sides met in a York County Common Pleas courtroom Monday for a hearing on the status of preparing for a new trial. Judge Harry Ness rescheduled the hearing for July 25 in order to also hear arguments on the habeas corpus motion.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.