EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSUSAN CULP
from Eyewitness News Online
Family Says Justice System Failed Them In Fatal Wreck Case
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Bob Aaron
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Also Contributing: Bob Aaron
Reported: Apr. 23, 2012 10:47 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 23, 2012 11:07 PM EDT
Summersville , Nicholas County , West Virginia
Relatives of a man killed in a Nicholas County accident say the justice system failed when it came to prosecuting the woman responsible for the fatal wreck.
Larry Bailey, 57, was killed when Susan Culp, who was allegedly under the influence of drugs, crashed into him in Cottle in November 2010. The family says a sloppy investigation led to Culp getting off on a misdemeanor.
Clutching each other for support, Bailey's family packed into a courtroom hoping for justice, but left feeling none.
"I didn't see no remorse. It's just sad that this is the way our justice system is," says Brenda Bailey, the victim's wife.
Bailey died after a truck, driven by Culp, was arrested and then indicted on a felony charge of DUI with death, alleging she was high on drugs, crossed the center line, and caused the fatal crash.
"We investigated all aspects of this case and anything that's relevant or may have been relevant we investigated it to the fullest extent," explains Sheriff Wetzel Bennett.
On Monday, prosecutors allowed Culp to plead no contest to misdemeanor negligent homicide. She went from facing up to ten years in prison, to up to a year in jail.
"I feel sorry for everybody in the county that has to drive on these roads, knowing that convicted criminals, or not convicted criminals, are out there and we pass them everyday," said Bailey.
A urine test initially indicated drugs in Culp's system, but no blood test was given to prove or disprove she was high when the crash happened. The truck she was driving was also released from evidence and later sold, leaving prosecutors with no concrete evidence to fall back on to pursue the felony. Sheriff Bennett disputes claims the investigation was mishandled.
"We've done anything and everything we could for the family," says the sheriff.
"She still doesn't remember the accident. She still says that he crossed the center line and hit her, so if that doesn't prove that she was impaired, I don't know what else it's going to take for them to prove willful neglect," said Bailey.
Culp will be sentenced in July. The family says they want to push for legislation that would allow police to be able to take a blood test from DUI suspects without a search warrant.
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