West Decatur Man Found Guilty of Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence

CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw, Jr., announced Friday that James John Tingle, of West Decatur, has been found guilty of various offenses including homicide by vehicle while DUI. Shaw reported the verdict was handed down by Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman who presided over the July 13 one day non-jury trial.

The criminal complaint alleged that on December 4, 2005, Tingle was traveling West on SR 322 and struck a 1994 Dodge Shadow in the rear-end. Tingle’s Vehicle then traveled into the eastbound lane of traffic and struck a 1998 KIA Sportage head-on. The occupants of the KIA Sportage, James Whited, James Whited, Jr., and Linda Whited were all transported to the Altoona General Trauma Center for injuries.

Shaw stated that Linda Whited died 18 days after the crash following complications from surgery. Tingle requested a non-jury trial to contest the cause of Whited’s death.

To be guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI, the commonwealth must prove that the DUI was the cause of death.

During the one day trial, Shaw offered testimony from Dr. Jeanne Lumadue who conducted the autopsy on Whited. Lumadue testified that Whited died as a result of tiny blood clots in her lungs that resulted from surgery Whited received following the crash. The defense offered testimony from two expert witnesses to say that the blood clots did not cause Whited’s death.

Ammerman was not persuaded by the defense experts and found Tingle guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol, and the summary offenses of driving at safe speed, careless driving, and reckless driving.

Ammerman directed that Tingle be sentenced within 60 days.

Shaw stated this was an extremely difficult case to prosecute due to the efforts of the defendant to obtain expert witnesses to dispute the cause of death. Shaw credits the fine work of Lumadue with obtaining the verdict, noting that “Dr. Lumadue is an extremely intelligent, well educated, and professional pathologist who very clearly articulated the cause of death”.

Shaw was pleased with the verdict but stated that “these types of cases are the most troubling to prosecute because of the senseless deaths that occur”. Every year Clearfield County experiences a number of DUI related deaths and Shaw encourages everyone not to drink and drive because the consequences are profound. Shaw stated he will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases and is hopeful that those who drink will decide not drive.

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