An Orange County prosecutor told a jury yesterday that Brittany Schuetz ignored her friends warnings not to drink and drive when she got into her car and later crashed into the car of April Whang, killing her instantly.
Schuetz had been drinking at a house party in Sherman Oaks and was returned to her car here in Orange County. Likely due to her intoxicated state, Scheutz declined her friends’ pleas to wait until she was sober. Alcohol intoxication, as it increases, eliminates our inhibitions, those red flags in the brain when we’re sober, that tell us not to do things that are dangerous.
That is why DUI murder charges are so tricky. The District Attorney argues that to blow off the warnings is a form of malice, a very high degree of recklessness that amounts to intent. But with the blood-alcohol level in her system, it was very likely she couldn’t have formed such intent, couldn’t have been able to consider the consequences of her actions. That is why the facts of the case suggest DUI manslaughter instead. Recklessness that doesn’t rise to the level of intent to kill. The jury will decide.