The civil trial against Lindsey Llaneza came to an end today. After several interesting twists and turns, the judge decided to award Angela Leazenby’s family $500,000 (plus funeral expenses), the maximum amount allowable.
But this trial wasn’t about money (and besides, Llaneza doesn’t have any). This was more about principles and symbolism…and in that respect the trial was a success.
The best news for the family is that Llaneza finally confessed sorrow and remorse about what he had done. Llaneza also viewed graphic photos of the scene for the first time. Ray Thomas (who worked this case pro bono) said this fact alone “justified the trial”.
**UPDATE: For a great recap of the day’s events, read this article in the Oregonian.
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Here’s my report on it:
Because Lindsey Llaneza waived his right to a trial by jury, the trial was shorter than anticipated and concluded today. I was there for most of the day, and Jonathan Maus was there for the whole thing.
It was an unusual trial in many ways, including the fact that Mr. Llaneza left the room as soon as the judge told him he didn’t have to be there (he was brought back for the verdict). Ray Thomas brought forward four witnesses: Mr. Llaneza himself (he had to stay for that, obviously), the police officer who responded (and happened to witness the whole thing), the toxicologist who did the blood alcohol examination, and Angela Leazenby’s father.
As a reminder, this was a civil case brought forward by the family of Angela Leazenby. Llaneza has already been convicted in the criminal case and is serving two consecutive 10-year terms for that. This case was seeking a financial judgment against Mr. Llaneza to reimburse the family for their funeral expenses, legal and travel expenses, and to compensate them for the loss of many years of love and affection from their daughter.
All witnesses painted a clear but bleak picture of Mr. Llaneza going 60-70 MPH on Belmont, striking one cyclist and dragging her, striking two others, and then accelerating in an attempt to get away. Angela’s family clearly loved her dearly and have had a very tough time since her loss. It was hard to hear all the details and be reminded that there are all too many people like Mr. Llaneza out in the world, who repeatedly drink and drive. How can we as bicyclists protect ourselves against that? And how can we as a society prevent someone like him from making the same bad decision over and over…until killing someone finally got him locked away for 20 years?
The judge awarded the family of Angela Leazenby reimbursement for expenses as well as the full penalty allowable for loss of a family member (Ray, correct me if I used the wrong term here) of $500,000. There’s no expectation that he will ever be in a position to pay those damages, but hopefully the family can move on, and we’ve made a stand against behavior like this through the justice system.
Tony Green from the Oregonian was there with a photographer for the entire day, and a reporter from Channel 2 came as well and interviewed me and Jonathan. Keep your eyes open for those stories. And thanks to Ray for taking on this case pro bono.
i wish i could have made it, but i was falling asleep at work as it was.