Fatal accident victim's family wants more serious charges against driver using phone

Fatal accident victim's family wants more serious charges against driver using phone

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Brent Badeaux was driving down Barataria Boulevard on his motorcycle Jan. 31, when he was killed.

According to the arrest report, 28-year-old Jessica Martin was distracted while talking on her cell phone, and she failed to yield to oncoming traffic when she moved across the Northbound lanes of Barataria.

Badeaux struck Martin's car.

"I mean, he was pronounced dead on the scene. He died instantly," said his widow, Jan Badeaux.

While Martin was arrested for negligent homicide and disregarding a yield sign, the district attorney decided to charge Martin with a traffic violation - failure to yield.

Badeaux's family calls it a slap on the wrist.

"So basically, she's going to walk away. It's just ridiculous," Badeaux said.

They point to a police report that states that Martin was distracted while talking on her phone.

"Well, it's not illegal to talk on a cellphone while you're driving," Robert Hjortsberg said.

Attorney Robert Horjesbert tells FOX 8 that even though it's not illegal to talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel, there are still ways to be charged with negligent homicide - but it's a difficult call for the DA to make.

"It requires such a disregard for the interest of others that the individuals conduct was a gross deviation below the standard of care that a reasonable individual would exercise under similar circumstances," Hjortsberg said.

"I asked them about the phone records. Were they pulled? What did they show? Well, the phone records were never pulled," Badeaux said.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney' Office isn't commenting because it's an open case, so it's unclear if they've pulled Martin's phone records.

The Badeaux family, though, said they believe Martin may have been texting, not talking on her phone.

"Witnesses say that she clearly had her phone in her hand. She was clearly texting on her phone," Badeux said.

"So, the phone records would certainly tell you that," Hjorstberg said.

Badeaux's family wants the DA to consider increasing the charges against Martin.

"I'm hopeful that maybe we can get a little more justice," Badeaux said.

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