The Allentown police crash re-constructionist and investigating officer estimated Sheena's "cautioning" of the drunk driver to slow down time at about 30 seconds-- which is an eternity, when someone is, in reality, according to the 2nd passenger/surviving witness, not "cautioning," but rather, begging and screaming for one's life to not end.
And that's how I've been told my only daughter Sheena spent the final 30 seconds of her beautifully lived life-- begging and screaming for it to not end, and not "cautioning the driver to slow down," as DA Jim Martin lied to the TV camera.
The drunk driver's crime easily met the legal requirements for a charge of third degree murder, and for which there are numerous precedent Pennsylvania cases [See: Urbanski, Kling, Scales, Pigg] including Commonwealth v. Levin, which defines the main requirement for a charge of third degree murder: malice.
Malice consists of a "wickedness of disposition, hardness of heart, cruelty, recklessness of consequences, and a mind regardless of social duty, although a particular person may not be intended to be injured ..." Malice may be found where the defendant consciously disregarded an unjustified and extremely high risk that his actions might cause serious bodily injury.
Sheena's killer was not charged with third degree murder because, curiously, neither DA Jim Martin nor Judge Robert Steinberg could find any of the multiple layers of malice that were staring them both in the face, as was I.
To add insult to injury and an already gross perpetration of injustice-in-progress, at his guilty plea hearing on February 2, 2007, Sheena's killer blurted out to Judge Steinberg that he "knew he was a blackout drinker." I found this highly relevant. Here's why:
The mere knowledge of being a blackout drinker, and getting behind the wheel drunk anyway, and killing someone, was all the malice the PA Superior Court needed to uphold Joe Levin's conviction for third degree murder in Philadelphia County [See P. 4, final 2 paragraphs]
In stark contrast to the comparatively 1-dimensional Joe Levin DUI homicide/third degree murder case, Sheena's case had these multiple layers of malice screaming out to the prosecutors ...
* the passengers' having "cautioned" the drunk driver to slow down (testified to by DA Jim Martin on TV) and the drunk driver's apparent total disregard of "an unjustified and extremely high risk that his actions [i.e., not slowing down] might cause serious bodily injury."
* the highest combination of crash speed (85mph+) and blood alcohol content (.24) the arresting officer had ever seen in the City of Allentown in his lengthy career as an Allentown policeman ... i.e., total disregard of "an unjustified and extremely high risk that his actions [i.e., drinking that much, and driving that recklessly] might cause serious bodily injury."
* knowledge of being a blackout drinker but getting behind the wheel drunk anyway and subsequently killing someone while driving drunk, just like Joe Levin did, and for which Levin was sentenced to 12.5 to 25 years in PA State Prison
I was at the guilty plea hearing of Sheena's killer on February 2, 2007, thanks, exclusively, to an anonymous phone caller who had tipped us off that a guilty plea hearing was happening on February 2nd. Last we had heard from DA Jim Martin's office, there was a trial scheduled to start on February 12, 2007. But according to our anonymous tipster, this had been negotiated into a guilty plea hearing, the court date had been moved up 10 days, and no one in Sheena's family would be notified of this major change in court date and court procedure. As it turned out, our Good Samaritan anonymous caller was dead-on target on all 3 counts. And had we not been there for the guilty plea hearing on February 2, 2007, DA Jim Martin's office could, and we believe they would, have dropped all the major charges against Sheena's killer. And we declare this with steadfast certainty, having witnessed DA Jim Martin pull this exact same maneuver on another DUI homicide grief-stricken family a few months later in September 2007-- dropping the major charge (and 9 of the 14 charges overall) at an 11th hour guilty plea hearing the victim's family had been told would be day #1 of a trial. See: "Ethics, Morning Call style." That grief-stricken family, the family of DUI homicide victim Zach Mohney didn't have any fight left in them, and so they didn't fight it. Most grief-stricken families don't have any fight left in them and DA Jim Martin counts on this.
On February 2, 2007, when Sheena's killer chattily told Judge Steinberg that he "knew he was a blackout drinker," I stood up in the courtroom and yelled, "LEVIN." TWICE. Sheena's killer had just confessed to committing third degree murder. But Judge Steinberg, DA Jim Martin's "prosecutor" (wink wink) Richard Director, and Morning Call "newspaper" "reporter" Manny Gamiz all made believe they didn't hear me ... and Judge Steinberg accepted Sheena's killer's guilty plea for the much lesser charge of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.
In April 2007, Sheena's killer was sentenced to 5.5 to 12 years in PA State Prison. Judge Steinberg showed those in attendance the hundreds of letters he had received demanding justice for Sheena's killer in an election year for Judge Steinberg. 5.5 to 12 years wasn't the 12.5 to 25 years Sheena's killer deserved, but it also wasn't the wrist slap DA Jim Martin is known to manipulate for cronies and drinking buddies.
Exactly how DA Jim Martin fixes DUI homicide cases for cronies and drinking buddies will be examined in a separate installment of our "Allentown" exposé.