In 2013, Mariah King and Vincent Mathews were killed in a truck accident in Florida when they were struck while changing a tire. The deaf couple could not hear the approaching vehicle and were hit by the semi, whose driver allegedly ditched the damaged truck and disappeared.
For a year and longer, the parents of the dead couple have faced life knowing there was no way to have closure. Finally, though there is some hope.
Surveillance video Footage Proved Crucial
The truck driver who was accused of killing the couple has turned himself in to state troopers this Monday. Robert Bates was the man behind the wheels when the accident occurred on the Turnpike near Fort Pierce in October 2013. According to Jacksonville truck driving accident attorneys familiar with the case, Bates continued driving without stopping even after had hit the couple who were busy changing a flat tire. He later ditched his vehicle in a storage yard and ran away from the scene.
Earlier this year, Florida Highway Patrol released images from a surveillance video taken from a toll plaza that showed Bates. A warrant for his arrest was issued, following which Bates decided to turn himself in. Truck accident attorneys in Florida say that the case had been under review for months. Bates did turn himself in which could mean less of sentence but because he stalled and ran away initially, it does not look good for him.
He possibly could have made a case for himself by saying the couple was in the road but since he ditched the scene, his credibility is shot. Because he never slowed down though, he would have been in trouble regardless.
DNA Evidence has made the Case Fool Proof
Mariah King’s mother says that it has been a hard time for the family this last year dealing with the death of their beloved daughter while knowing that there was no chance of closure. She says that the past year has been filled with ’emptiness’. But the police officers investigating the case have a solid reason as to why the process to nab Bates has taken so long. The police investigators were trying hard to build a foolproof case against Bates, and DNA evidence played a crucial role in that regard.
The department was waiting for lab reports confirming that the victims’ DNA was found on the damaged truck, thus effectively tying the truck with the accident. Jacksonville truck accident attorneys say that in Florida, a defendant can go on trial within 180 days from the date the charges against him or her are filed. Since there was no guarantee that the evidence would be tested in that much time, the investigators decided to wait instead.
Better Late than Never
The DNA processing took a long time, but since the statute of limitations on such hit and run crimes is long, the police investigators were in no hurry and they took the opportunity to ensure that all the evidence they had collected would stand up before a jury. Now, the police has the DNA evidence, a photograph of Bates driving his damaged truck through a toll booth, and the damaged truck as well with the victims’ DNA on it.
Robert Bates, 69, was being held at the St. Lucille County jail on a $35,000 bond during the 2014 Thanksgiving week.