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The Lake News Online
  • Court upholds Miller County woman's manslaughter conviction

  • The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a Miller County woman.
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  • The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a Miller County woman.
    The Court issued its order affirming the conviction of Julie K. Laux, age 38, in the drunk driving death of her boyfriend Kenneth Eichholz on March 11, 2011, near St. Elizabeth. Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard charged Laux with First Degree Involuntary Manslaughter, which resulted in a conviction following a bench trial on November 27, 2012. Laux had been sentenced to five years probation after the trial court suspended a prison term of seven years, with a requirement that she serve 120 days in jail. Eichholz was ejected from the passenger seat and sustained fatal injuries during a single vehicle rollover crash when Laux lost control of the pickup truck she was operating on Highway 52. Laux’s blood alcohol level was found to be in excess of the .08 percent legal limit, registering .13 percent following the crash.
    The appeals court rejected Laux’s contention that the prosecutor failed to present sufficient proof of the cause of Eichholz’s death, because Miller County Coroner Rick Callahan, who is not a doctor or pathologist, had certified the death as resulting from the fatal crash trauma, without the benefit of an autopsy or medical examination. Howard noted that proving the cause of death in homicide cases generally requires an autopsy by a qualified pathologist, however, in certain cases a coroner’s determination is adequate.
    “Rick Callahan and I have reviewed enough death cases over the years that I have complete confidence in his judgment as coroner." Howard said. "Anytime there is concern about the need for an autopsy, we make those determinations together.”
    Laux has been free on a supervised bond which was revoked by the appeals court. The appellate ruling was accompanied by a warrant requiring that Laux be taken into custody to serve her jail time. Howard had argued against any probation citing a “troubling lack of remorse and failure to accept responsibility” in the case.
     
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