Posted on August 26, 2011 at 10:46 PM
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County prosecutors plan to retry a dump truck driver charged in the deaths of four motorcyclists last year in North Phoenix.
After 16 months behind bars, Michael Jakscht was hoping for a chance to get out but the victims’ family and friends were also there begging the judge to keep him in jail.
“The motorcycles hit by Mr. Jakscht were not only motorcycles they were sons daughters fathers and loved ones,” said Barbara Rich, the mother of Dale Totonchi, killed in the crash.
It happened March 2010. That’s when Michael Jakscht was driving a commercial truck and slammed into a group of motorcycle riders. Four died and five were hurt. Toxicology reports show he had methamphetamine in his system.
Ernie Lizarraga suffered a traumatic brain injury. His wife tells the court their lives are forever changed.
“Our granddaughter will always ask why does grandpa walk and talk the way he does and I have to tell her what happened that someone did meth and got in a dump truck and drove into these people,” said Lorri Lizarraga.
But despite the meth in his system the defense maintains Jakscht was not impaired.
“It's no dispute that Mr. Jakscht was driving a truck that hit motorcycles and cars but the fact remains it was an unintentional act,” said Robyn Varcoe.
And 9 out of 12 jurors agreed, not finding enough to convict Jakscht of manslaughter or endangerment.
The defense maintains the brakes on the truck were bad and the crash was an accident.
Still the victim's, their families, and the prosecution don't buy it and don't want Jakscht released.
“He doesn't have it that bad as the people that he hit with his vehicle,” said Ernie Lizarraga.
Jakscht has already spent 16 months behind bars and with a million dollar bond and another pending trial, he could face many more months there.
“We will retry this case as many times as necessary or the court allows us to get justice in this case,” said prosecutor Thomas McDermott.
In the end the judge upheld the million dollar bond and set a status hearing for Monday at which time a new trial date may be set. If convicted... Michael Jakscht faces anywhere from 42 to 171 years in prison.