Leader Blues

Friday, August 21, 2009

TOP STORY >> Motorcyclist guilty in pedestrian death

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
and JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writers

A Lonoke County jury Thursday found an Austin motorcyclist guilty of negligent homicide and second-degree battery in the death of a Cabot man and injury to his wife as the couple walked from a Cabot football game during halftime last September.

The jury of nine men and three women deliberated one hour. On their recommendation, Circuit Judge Philip Whiteaker imposed the maximum sentence on Larry Dalhaus, 40.

Whiteaker sentenced Dalhaus to 10 years for the homicide with a $10,000 fine and three years and $10,000 for the battery, and ran the sentences consecutively.

Jeff and Rebecca Marvin, Cabot residents, were among a group of pedestrians in the crosswalk leaving the game when Dalhaus struck them. He was riding east on Hwy. 38 and passed vehicles on the left that had stopped in the northbound lane waiting for pedestrians to cross.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Will Feland speculated that the jury recommended the maximum because Dalhaus was intoxicated, passing in a turn lane and struck people in a crosswalk.

“It may have been the totality of circumstances,” he said. Dalhaus, who has been working in Dallas, was represented by Mark Hampton.

The traffic death prompted some city residents to ask school and city officials last fall for safer crosswalks.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said then that construction of wide, raised crosswalks would be possible only after the railroad overpass was completed and the section of Hwy. 38 from the school to South Pine was released to the city.

Jerrel Maxwell, the city’s public works director, said Friday that even though the overpass is now open, to his knowledge the highway has not yet been turned over to the city. But the city plans to build the crosswalks as soon as possible, he said.

Although the crosswalks will be elevated only four inches, they will make pedestrians visible not only to the first car that stops but also to the ones that line up behind the first one, Maxwell said.

“We’re working to keep people safe,” he said.