State Trooper Honored for Alabama's First Texting while driving manslaughter conviction


An Alabama State Trooper was recently awarded for his investigation into a crash two years ago that led to what a prosecutor believes is the first manslaughter conviction based on the state's texting and driving law. Trooper Bruce Irvin recently received the citation from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Stan Stabler, according to the agency's Twitter and Facebook pages. Trooper Irvin is assigned to Highway Patrol's Mobile Post. Two years ago, USA student Miranda "Randi" Hamilton died in a crash that prosecutors blamed on another driver's cell phone use. On Wednesday, that man drew a potentially precedent-setting 10-year split sentence on his manslaughter conviction. Irvin was the traffic investigator for an April 14, 2014 crash on Lott Road, just west of Schillinger road that killed 24-year-old Miranda Hamilton of Mobile. A jury earlier this year found Jonathan Mikeal Raynes, 23, of Purvis, Miss., guilty of manslaughter in the wreck. Raynes was sentenced in April by Circuit Court Judge Robert Smith to a 10-year-split sentence with two years to serve in prison. Raynes is appealing his conviction and sentence to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Raynes, according to testimony at his trial, had told Irvin that it had not been his phone that distracted him, Irvin testified that he believed otherwise. Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich argued that Raynes was "fixated" on his phone at the time of the crash. Her case was built largely on the testimony of Paul Weathersby, an information technology specialist and digital forensic examiner for the FBI's Mobile division. Weathersby testified that Raynes had been using his cellphone in the hour before the crash mostly to send instant messages or look at profiles of women on dating sites. He used several social media apps, but returned repeatedly to a dating site called Badoo, which he apparently was using for the first time that morning. According to Weathersby testified Raynes last manipulated his phone at 8:57:36 a.m., or 32 seconds before the first 911 call about the wreck was logged. If the prosecution doesn't have a smoking gun in a manslaughter case based on Alabama's texting and driving law, will a warm one do? Based on the verdict in a Mobile case, the answer apparently is "yes.' No eyewitness testified that he was using his phone at the instant of the crash. Rich said earlier this year that she believes this is the first time Alabama's texting and driving statute has been applied in a manslaughter case. The state's texting and driving law went into effect in August 2012. Starting Wednesday in Alabama, car-driving texters, emailers, Facebookers and Twitterers will take on a new handle -- lawbreakers. That's when Alabama becomes the 38th state with a law banning texting and driving.Line