Woman whose boyfriend died in crash urges judge never to allow another driver to drive

A woman in a 2018 motorcycle collision with her boyfriend – who died in the accident – told the judge she had found forgiveness for the other driver accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, until until she learns the man’s driving history. Now she’s asking the judge to never allow her to drive again.

The other driver, Freddie Lee Slater, 55, of Gainesville, was charged with drunken manslaughter in the 2018 crash. Police say he was under the influence of the marijuana. A judge revoked his bail during a preliminary hearing at the Alachua County Courthouse last month after prosecutors learned he was charged in Bradford County last year with driving without a valid license .

A jury trial has been tentatively set for early next week, although Slater’s attorney has asked the judge to delay proceedings because the defense team says up to 10 reports are missing. fire and rescue paramedics who responded to the 2018 crash. Judge William Davis did not immediately rule on the claim.

“Mr. Slater’s personal and medical observations, as well as interviews and statements taken from all others involved in this crash, are critical information that must be gathered before trial,” Slater’s attorney wrote. , public defender Aaron Kelley.

The case stems from the 2018 crash that resulted in the death of 28-year-old Jeffrey Delong of Clermont, Florida. Authorities said Slater was driving a 1998 Lincoln Towncar on County Road 234 near Micanopy when he drove through a stop sign at the intersection with US 441 and pulled into the path of the Delong motorcycle. Delong, who was not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A toxicology report released a month after the accident revealed that Slater was under the influence of marijuana at the time.

The motorcycle passenger, Alaina Johnson, was wearing a helmet and suffered crippling injuries, authorities said.

The day of the accident was Mother’s Day and Johnson’s 25th birthday. She said she and Delong were home from church, and that she was about six weeks pregnant with Delong’s child with two other young children at home who are unrelated but close to Delong. The baby, a girl, was born about eight months later, in January 2019.

“I can never put into words how it broke me inside when paramedics at the scene told me Jeffrey did not survive,” she wrote to the judge the month last. “I never knew what screaming and crying sounded like at the same time, until then.”

In her letter, she described her fury with Slater over allegations that he was driving under the influence. She said she suffered broken ankles, feet and toes, as well as nerve damage. She said she finally forgave Slater — “people are human, they make mistakes,” she wrote — and then learned of his other driving offenses. His mind had changed.

“At that point, that’s when I realized he clearly had NO REGARD to anyone,” she wrote to the judge. She demanded that Slater never be allowed to drive again and asked the judge not to agree to delay the trial any further.

Geico, Johnson’s insurance company, paid him $50,000 in 2019 to cover damage from the crash. Geico in turn sued Slater to recover that sum, and another judge accepted that judgment, but it is unclear from public records if Slater made that payment.

Slater’s attorney said in a statement that the crash was an accident, not a crime.

There was no alcohol involved in this crash, and no drugs or alcohol were found at the scene,” Kelley said in the statement. “The State’s case rests entirely on the opinion of a witness about the possibility of impairment because a metabolite of cannabis was found in Mr. Slater’s system after the accident. This opinion will be challenged and contradicted by the defense expert, as well as by witnesses and observers.

roofer was also cited for not having proof of insurance, using a license plate not assigned to the car he was driving, and running a stop sign. He was acquitted of the insurance and stop sign charges due to insufficient evidence. Prosecutors dropped the license plate charge in 2020.

According Florida Driving Laws, a first conviction for impaired driving with bodily harm requires a mandatory three-year driver’s license revocation. A DUI manslaughter conviction requires a mandatory permanent revocation. What happens to a driver’s license between the offense and the judgment is less clear.

While Davis, the judge, originally ordered Slater not to drive in his 2020 arrest warrant order, Slater was able to get his license reinstated while the case remained open. In a first appearance order issued following his initial arrest, Slater was ordered not to drive unless he had a valid license.

Over the past four years, Slater’s license has been suspended and reinstated multiple times due to delinquent child support payments and his inability to pay civil fines and judgments, his attorney said.

Slater may have been able to obtain a hardship permit allowing him to drive while his case was on trial, it is likely a hardship permit would have been revoked after he was caught driving with a suspended license in 2021.

Slater’s last suspension came in March when he was cited for reckless driving after crashing into a parked car. His license was reinstated less than a month later, according to court records.

“I just want to get this over with and close this chapter of my life,” Johnson, the crash survivor, wrote to the judge. “I would like to get my closure, whatever that looks like, and keep moving forward.”

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