03 August 2010
The News Virginian

STAUNTON – A Waynesboro man walked free Monday from Augusta County Circuit Court in a case marred by fingerpointing, poor police work and one man’s tragic death.

Judge Victor V. Ludwig walked attorneys through his decision to dismiss the felony reckless driving charge against Dale Michael Pleasants, 31, citing a lack of conclusive evidence and a state police report riddled with mistakes.

Two years ago, Pleasants smashed his truck head-on into a pickup along U.S. 340 on an October night, killing Steven Patrick Henry, 29, of Stuarts Draft, according to authorities and court records.

The wreck sent Pleasants and Henry to hospital emergency rooms.

In a recent legal brief, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Rupen Shah argued Pleasants drove intoxicated, without his headlights on, over the
speed limit and on a revoked license.

But because a state trooper assumed hospitals automatically check blood-alcohol levels, three tubes of blood taken from Pleasants wound up being tossed out by Augusta Health in Fishersville, authorities and hospital officials said.

That quashed any chance of learning whether Pleasants drove while intoxicated, Shah said.

Read the rest of the story at The News Virginian.

* Unavailable evidence disrupts crash case
* State Police weigh in on blood case
* Attorney: Missing blood not key to case

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posted by Chase at 9:47 AM |