Jury deadlocks on wrong way driving DUI defendant
By Kay Braddock
There wasn’t enough evidence to convict Roger Anton Sand of his seventh DUI, according to one member of the jury In Prairie County who spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
After three hours of deliberation the jury found the 56-year-old Billings man guilty of all three misdemeanor charges but remained deadlocked on the felony DUI count.
The misdemeanor charges included driving while license is suspended, operating a vehicle without liability insurance, second offense and reckless driving.
The jury was not made aware that this was Sand’s seventh DUI charge during the July 22 trial held at the Prairie County courthouse.
Sand was stopped the evening of August 30 of last year on Interstate 94 traveling east in the westbound lane after calls to dispatch were received.
During the trial Sand maintained road construction caused the mistake for getting in the wrong lane, along with his poor nighttime vision. He said he was attempting to find a turnaround when pulled over by then Prairie County Deputy Greg Huber.
“They should have done a little bit more homework,” the jury member said of the prosecution, pointing out neither side addressed the construction issue, which left three jury members unsure as to why Sand was traveling along the wrong side of the highway.
No breathalyzer results and poor audio on the video images presented in court were other reasons why the jury remained deadlocked.
Sand refused to take a breathalyzer after being pulled over.
Although the prosecution maintained the August 30 video showed Sand answering, “yes” when asked by Huber whether he had been drinking, some on the jury couldn’t make out his answer. On the stand, Sand said he had not been drinking that evening.
A request to view the video during deliberation was denied, according to the jury member interviewed.
Wrong descriptions of the vehicle given by callers to 911 also left jury members unsure. Motorists described different colors and makes of vehicles.
“Nobody ever said it was a green minivan,” the jurist said, which is what Sand was driving that evening.
Prairie County Attorney Rebecca Convery expressed disappointment with the jury’s deadlock. Trying the case again is under consideration, Convery said.
Maximum sentences for the misdemeanor charges are: Driving while license is suspended, 6 months imprisonment and $500 fine, operating a vehicle without liability insurance, $350 or 10-days of jail time or both and reckless driving, 90-days and a fine of $300 or both.
Published July 28, 2010