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DA details charges against driver

Posted by on August 20th, 2007 at 12:42 pm

I just got off the phone with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, where the case of Johnny Eschweiler (the driver in Friday’s road rage incident) is being processed.

Eschweiler will be arraigned later today at the Justice Center in downtown Portland. Here are the official charges that will be brought against him:

2 counts of Assault 2:

    ORS 163.175 Assault in the second degree.

    (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if the person:

    (a) Intentionally or knowingly causes serious physical injury to another; or
    (b) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon; or
    (c) Recklessly causes serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

    (2) Assault in the second degree is a Class B felony.

2 counts of Assault 1:

    ORS 163.185 Assault in the first degree.

    (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if the person intentionally causes serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon.

    (2) Assault in the first degree is a Class A felony.

In the state of Oregon, a Class A felony is punishable by up to 20 years and a $100,000 fine. The Class B felony charge could add up to 10 years and another $100,000.

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  • peejay August 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I think the appropriate punishment, in addition to whatever jail time and fines, should be that the guy may only use public streets while operating a bicycle. That is, no driving, and no riding as a passenger in any other person\’s car. He\’s got to bike everywhere. Oh, and he\’s got to have one of those safety flags that says \”I assaulted a cyclist\” permanently attached to his ride.

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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Two possibilities come to mind:

    1) The D.A. is expecting to drop the first degree assault charges in exchange for a guilty plea on the second degree assault charges; or

    2) The D.A. is bringing both charges to trial, with the expectation that a jury will find him guilty of the second degree assault charges, and the hope that a jury will find him guilty of the first degree assault charges.

    Any word from the D.A. about why he\’s being charged with both crimes?

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  • Op4 August 20, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Engrish for the day!

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  • SKiDmark August 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Maybe this will set a precedent as to how collisions between bikes and cars will be viewed (that they will be taken seriously).

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  • D Rock August 20, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    While you hate to see someone have their life ruined because of a temporary bout of rage (Note: I am not defending this man\’s actions in any way…he deserves everything he gets) this may be a case where a precedent needs to be set. If this becomes a highly publicized trial a long jail sentence can be more educational to other agressive drivers out there than any level of public training and education ever could. You see a man get 10 to 20 years in jail you can bet a lot of people will give a cyclist a little extra room the next time they feel like blowing by them.

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  • West Cougar August 20, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    \”set a precedent as to how collisions between bikes and cars will be viewed\”

    This is the exceptional, deliberate case. There has never been an issue with how the deliberate case is dealt with once injuries are caused. It provides no precedent for the relatively mundance case of the distracted, negligant driver.

    While I hope this guy gets nailed hard after a short but media saturated trial with two guilty charges of Assault 1, I\’m not expecting it to change anything in the city or the state regarding how the average cyclist is treated after the average run-in with a negligant driver.

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  • Andrew August 20, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Worth mentioning is that Assault 1 and 2 are Measure 11 crimes. Assault 1 has a minimum sentence of 7 years, 6 months, and Assault 2 is (usually) 5 years, 10 months.

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  • lyle August 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    let\’s see this Jack a** try to run down a bike cop at full speed and see how fast he gets charged with attempted capital murder, and not assault 2.

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  • SKiDmark August 20, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    I don\’t think it is that exceptional. It is an extreme example of road rage, but it is not like it never happens. What will (hopefully) stick in the public\’s mind is that if you hit a cyclist you will get in trouble.

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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    If you \”intentionally hit,\” SKiDmark. The woman who killed Tim O\’Donnell \”Got in trouble\” to the tune of $1,000. Of course, if Tim O\’Donnell\’s survivors file a lawsuit, she will have significantly more serious problems than that $1,000 ticket.

    And that Measure 11 prison sentence isn\’t the end of Eschweiler\’s problems, if these two cyclists decide to sue. His life as he knows it is basically over– fro m this point forward, his life will be defined by this assault and its consequences.

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  • Cøyøte August 20, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    I am impressed, the DA appears to taking this seriously.

    It will be intersting to see if this goes to trial. I predict the amount of car-head that will get displayed by the defense will be astounding.

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  • West Cougar August 20, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    What did you expect the DA to do? This is an exceptional case and it gets exceptional treatment.

    But it establishes no precedent for the more usual case of driver inattentiveness. Those, as far as I can tell are still treated as non-criminal because DA\’s fear (rightly IMO) defacto jury nullification.

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  • SKiDmark August 20, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    rixter,I think negligence should get you bigger penalties too, especially if there is a death.

    Admitting \”I didn\’t see him(her).\” should get your license suspended on the spot for negligence.

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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I think suspension or revocation should be part of the penalty, depending on the seriousness of the incident, and the degree of negligence.

    On the other hand, the police should not have the authority to administer on the spot penalties, before the accused has had his right to due process. Penalties should only be administered through the judicial system, after the state has presented its evidence, and the defendant has had an opportunity to defend himself.

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  • Scott Bricker, BTA August 20, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    We believe that these cases deserve the full punishment of law. These are serious charges. See my post on this issue at http://www.bta4bikes.org/

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  • Spencer August 20, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Why is he not being charged with attemped murder?

    If I punch some one or hit them with a stick, sure assault.

    If I go after them with a axe, gun or 6000 lb motor vehicle, Attempted murder.

    Lawyers out there (A.O. ?) what are the requirements for \”attempted murder\”?

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  • Todd Boulanger August 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Regarding post 15…it is likley that \’motor vehicles\’ are not seen as deadly weapons in most cases…that is unless the vehicle struck or attempted to strike a police officer. (My unscientific reading of press coverage of such over the last 10 years or so.)

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  • Zach August 20, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    I think we should make sure that the DA knows how we feel about this case – the office has a great deal of leeway in deciding how to mete out justice and whether to prosecute or plea baragin:

    Michael D. Schrunk, District Attorney
    Multnomah County Courthouse
    1021 S.W. Fourth Avenue, Room 600
    Portland, OR 97204


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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Re post 17:

    There are state and federal laws that give the victims of crimes a voice in the prosecution of their case. For example, if the D.A. wants to plead a case down, the crime victim has a right to be notified of that proposed plea bargain, and to ask the court to reject any plea bargain if it does not serve the interests of justice. The crime victim has a right to be represented by counsel both in dealing with the D.A., and in appearing before the court.

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  • VR August 20, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    I know of a person who was in an accident while DUII and was charged with \”Assault with a deadly weapon\” even though there was no intent or malice or ill will or forethought, and a clean driving record prior to the accident.

    (Not that there wasn\’t stupidity and that the person doesn\’t deserve DUII charges)

    Vehicles certainly do get classified as \”deadly weapons\”.

    I feel there is a problem with the consistency. The afore mentioned person should be charged with DUII, not Assault I. The lady who killed O\’Donnel should be charged with at minimum negligent homicide. This guy here should get Assault I.

    Strange how charges stack up some times.

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  • Mr. Viddy August 20, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    If everything is as it appears to be then I am hoping that \”Rage\” Eschweiler is found guilty and serves at least a few years in prison. But I am also dreading the possible backlash against cyclists from other motorists who are anti-bike and may look at this just the opposite as many of us do. And that is, the cyclists provoked the driver and as a result Mr. Eschweiler was the innocent party.

    Believe me, I know people who think this way and I am hoping my fears will turn out to be nothing.

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  • Bjorn August 21, 2007 at 11:53 am

    The second cyclist was hit after the driver had run into several other vehicles and turned a corner. Do you have to make it some distance from the scene before being caught in order to be charged with Hit and Run?


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  • rixtir August 21, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I had the same thoughts, Bjorn. While my original reaction to the charges was that the D.A. wasn\’t taking the case seriously, on reflection I think the D.A. is taking this case seriously. Nevertheless, it seems that there may be additional charges that should apply to this case– for example, hit & run– which makes me wonder why the D.A. isn\’t pressing these potential additional charges.

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