Appeals Court: Case Against Driver In Triple-Fatal Sand Springs Crash To Start Over
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the case against a man charged in a crash that killed three members of a family on Christmas Eve of 2009 back to the beginning.
The judge in the case, James Caputo, then recused himself from the case on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
The Appeals Court's ruling is the latest major twist in the case.
Soon after the crash, prosecutors charged Steven Wade Jameson with 1st-degree manslaughter, saying he caused the wreck that killed Michael and Angela Mulanax and their son James. They said Jameson was driving 70 miles an hour on Highway 51 west of Sand Springs in a blizzard when his Hummer hit the car carrying the Mulanax family. Prosecutors said Jameson did not have a valid license and had marijuana in his system the night of the crash.
Jameson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. A judge allowed him to withdraw his guilty pleas because his new lawyer argued that Jameson's original attorney gave him bad legal advice.
But in January of 2017, a judge vacated Jameson's manslaughter conviction and freed him. The Oklahoma State Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that decision and he went back to prison.
On June 13, 2017, Judge Caputo ruled that the evidence didn't support the 1st-degree manslaughter charge against Jameson, that double jeopardy did not bar prosecutors from trying Jameson on a charge of 1st-degree manslaughter while driving under the influence of marijuana, that the state could not prosecute him for driving without a license.
The central issue was the status of Jameson's license. It had been canceled by mistake, not suspended because of any alleged wrongdoing on his part.
On June 21, 2018, the Oklahoma State Court of Criminal Appeals reversed those three rulings and sent the case back to Tulsa County district court. Judge Caputo's clerk told News On 6 the judge didn't have time to release a statement about why he recused himself.
The case has now been assigned to Judge Kelly Greenough, with the next hearing set for August 27, 2018.