Albemarle Co. Jury Finds Naylor Not Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The man accused of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal collision between a Time Disposal trash truck and an Amtrak train last January has been found not guilty.
The trial for 31-year-old Dana William Naylor, Junior got underway in Albemarle Circuit Court on Monday, February 25. The verdict was handed down around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday, February 27.
Authorities had charged Naylor with involuntary manslaughter and DUI maiming in connection with the crash that occurred at the crossing on Lanetown Road on January 31, 2018. The crash seriously injured Dennis James Patrick Eddy and killed 28-year-old Christopher Sachem Foley. Both victims were sitting in the truck with Naylor.
Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled earlier Wednesday that there was no evidence for the DUI-related charge. Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Juan L. Vega wanted to present evidence that Naylor was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash, but Judge Higgins ruled in the defense’s favor and wouldn’t allow the jury to hear it.
A blood test was conducted on Naylor while he was being treated for his injuries, after investigators said they smelled alcohol on him. Results indicated Naylor had THC in his system, and marijuana had been discovered inside the trash truck. However, a toxicology expert explained to Judge Higgins that the THC level doesn’t prove someone was impaired.
The judge agreed with the defense, saying that without proof of impairment, the commonwealth cannot prove DUI maiming.
Defense attorney William Tanner also tried to get the involuntary manslaughter charge dismissed before jury deliberations, saying Naylor did not act in a criminally negligent manner.
Judge Higgins ruled against the defense's motion, leaving it up jurors to decide.
The commonwealth argued during closing arguments that Naylor showed reckless disregard for human life and the safety of others .Evidence and witnesses provided by the commonwealth had indicated that the safety arms were operating at the time of the crash.
The defense said the crash was a, “tragic accident,” and questioned how the trash truck could drive around the safety arms if they were down. Tanner called one witness to the stand Wednesday, a woman who lives near the crash site. She told jurors that there have been times when the safety arms did not go down, and as a result she had just barely driven over the tracks before a train came through.
"I think the jury wasn't able to consider the totality of circumstances supporting the commonwealth's charging decision, but the judge made a decision and we obviously respect the decision of the judge as we do the unanimous verdict of the jury," Tracci said. "That's how our system works."
Tanner didn't have a comment on the verdict. Naylor's family also does not have a comment at this time.
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