Man accused in fatal crash on Esplanade avenue admits guilt to most charges against him
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - 32-year-old Tashonty Toney plead guilty to most of the counts against him except for the two counts of vehicular homicide.
“They’re clearing the docket and just going to talk about the one thing this case has always been about. It’s always been about just how drunk he was that night,” says FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.
Toney’s accused of being drunk when he drove his car into nine bicyclists on Esplanade Avenue on the night of the Endymion parade.
27-year-old Sharee Walls and 31-year-old David Hynes died on the scene. Seven others were hurt.
Toney’s attorney, Ralph Whalen, had nothing to say leaving the court, but admitted to the judge that his client was the drunk driver who crashed into the bicyclists that night. He disagrees, though, his blood alcohol level was about .02.
That level would classify the vehicular homicide charges as crimes of violence and increase his potential penalty.
On the night of the accident, police say Toney refused to take a breath test, and his blood was drawn several hours later.
Toney then tested at .14 percent, but investigators say his level was likely above .20 at the time of the crash.
“When you take the test it is critical to identifying what it was but it is not a sure thing. This is going to be a battle of the experts to determine just how drunk he was because it’s going to determine his mandatory jail time,” says Raspanti.
Toney will go to trial for the more serious charges of vehicular homicide. The ADA told the court, prosecutors intend to have 15 to 20 witnesses take the stand.
FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti doesn’t believe victim impact testimony is necessary for this trial.
“This is a judge trial. There’s not going to be all the bells and whistles. The Judge doesn’t care about all that noise. They did all that stuff just to clear the docket. It’s going to be expert witnesses basically because he’s admitted to driving drunk,” says Raspanti.
If Toney is found guilty, he faces between 10 and 60 years for the two vehicular homicide charges.
His trial is set to begin October 28th. The Judge is holding the sentencing phase for all the charges until after the trial.
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