Crime

Alcohol behind driver's homicide charge

Lexington police say the reckless homicide charge against a Midway man accused of running over another man Saturday was based largely on one factor: Investigators think the driver was drunk.

But relatives of William J. McCane, 34, question whether the charge is appropriate because Jardiel Gonzalez, who was killed, also is suspected of having been drinking and had passed out in the middle of the road.

McCane "should not have been drinking and driving, but what I've been told from other people around the accident is that nobody could have avoided the accident," said McCane's brother, Joshua.

Joshua McCane questioned why witnesses didn't do more to help.

"There was a few bystanders around who could have done a little more to maybe move the person, to stop traffic, something," he said.

Police originally received a call that a man was lying in the road on Old Frankfort Pike near Elkchester Road at 3:38 a.m. Saturday. Gonzalez apparently had been driving a Ford Expedition north, then he stopped to throw up in the road and passed out.

The caller later reported that the man had been hit. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at 4:21 a.m. at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said investigators considered "all aspects" of the case — including lighting, road conditions and the states of mind of the victim and the driver — before filing the reckless homicide charge, a class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Roberts said investigators acknowledged that Gonzalez, 21, of Georgetown was partially at fault, and that an unimpaired driver might not have been able to avoid hitting him. Roads were clear and dry, but lighting in the area was poor, Roberts said.

But, she said, police had to factor William McCane's possibly alcohol-impaired reaction time into the investigation.

"If he was not suspected to be driving under the influence, there is a possibility that the situation may have been deemed an accident," she said.

Blood tests are pending for both men. According to a uniform citation filed in Fayette District Court, McCane told officers he'd had seven or eight beers and should not have been driving. An officer wrote in his report that McCane had "bloodshot/watery eyes, slurred speech and difficulty maintaining his balance," and he failed field sobriety tests.

McCane was charged with reckless homicide, driving under the influence, driving with an expired license, and having no insurance and no registration. He pleaded not guilty Monday in Fayette District Court. McCane was being held at the Fayette County jail on $6,300 bond, or $12,600 property bond.

McCane declined the Herald-Leader's request for an interview.

Attorney Brent Caldwell, whose firm is representing McCane, said it was too early to say whether he thinks the reckless homicide charge was warranted.

"We've just been retained and we don't know enough facts to make judgment at this point," he said.

Joshua McCane said he had spoken with his brother since Saturday's accident.

"He feels horrible, but he feels deep down in his heart that there's nothing he could have done to avoid hitting the man," he said.

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