Kvasnicka appeals drunk driving judgment and sentence - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Kvasnicka appeals drunk driving judgment and sentence

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It was day two of the state supreme court session in Sioux Falls.

Today, the court heard the case of the State vs. Kvasnicka.

In 2010, Tammy Kvasnicka was intoxicated while driving the wrong way on I-229.

A jury found Kvasnicka guilty on several counts, including manslaughter in the first degree, vehicular homicide, vehicular battery and driving under the influence.

Kvasnicka doesn't dispute the facts of the case but says she didn't get a fair trial.

Kvasnicka's attorney Nicole Laughlin took issue with an officer's testimony comparing the force of Kvasnicka's car to that of almost a thousand guns.

"The state in this case had the burden of showing that the vehicle was being used as a deadly weapon. You can't just take the item you're seeking to prove as a deadly weapon and replace it with something that is obviously a deadly weapon in the eyes of the jury," Laughlin said. 

Laughlin said the officer's testimony could have used the force of a baseball or even teddy bears but the state says the officer was just speaking from experience.

Asst. attorney general Ann Meyer said "he was just talking about what he knew best. where he was proficient, which is weapons. and let's face it, the statute says 'it's a dangerous weapon,' it goes to the force of that car."

Kvasnicka was indicted on two felony charges but found not guilty.  Laughlin argued whether the jury considered Kvasnicka's prior DUI as the felony in question.

"It's common knowledge to the public that you do not go to prison that first time you get a dui. so they are now imputed with the knowledge that ms. Kvasnicka has multiple DUI's. Not just multiple DUI's but enough to make this DUI a felony, which is extremely prejudicial," Laughlin said.

Meyer said it's a moot point since Kvasnicka wasn't found guilty of a felony.

"The non-sensical argument here is that there would be some kind of prejudice or due process argument on these first two counts because, this defendant was not convicted on those counts," Meyer said.

Laughlin said her client didn't get a fair trial, not because she says so but because the constitution states she didn't.

Kvasnicka is serving a 70-year sentence in the South Dakota state women's prison. 18 years of that sentence will be suspended if she meets a number of conditions set by the court.

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