Matt Mitchell was driving 126 mph, talking with his girlfriend on his cell phone, and e-mailing his employer on November 23, 2007 when he plowed into a vehicle carrying 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and her 13-year-old sister Kelli . The sisters were killed in the crash, and two other passengers were injured.
The individual who committed this act of criminally negligent homicide wore a government-issued costume identifying him as a member of the State Police, so he didn’t go to prison. Instead, he was given three months of probation, and the bereaved parents were given an $8 million tax victim-supported settlement.
Now it’s been learned that the tax victims will also be forced to pay “worker’s compensation” for the injuries Trooper Mitchell sustained as a result of his own arrogance and murderous ineptitude. Mitchell may receive hundreds of thousands of dollars. The details of this arrangement may never be known, since the “neutral arbiter” who would hear the case took great care to conceal the matter from the press and the public.
“We are going to do it on the sly,” wrote state worker’s compensation arbitrator Jennifer Teague in an e-mail to her court reporter. “There is nothing I can do to keep them [reporters] out of a public hearing, but will be more than willing to do a special setting and an unknown place and time,” she wrote in an ex parte communication with Mitchell’s lawyer, Kerry O’Sullivan, last October 18. In a reply a few weeks later that was cc’d to assistant state attorney general Bill Schneider, O’Sullivan helpfully suggested having an “off-docket trial of this matter to prevent or reduce media attention.”
Mitchell was placed on paid vacation for two years after he killed the girls, continuing to receive his $68,000 annual salary. Mitchell pleaded guilty last year as part of a deal with prosecutors resigned from the force, and served 90 days probation. Part of that deal involved admitting responsibility for the death of Jessica and Kelli Uhl. When the parents filed a civil suit, Mitchell retracted that admission.
“This man has no shame,” complained attorney Thomas .Q. Keefe, who represents the parents of Jessica and Kelli. “He had no shame when he changed his story and insisted he was not responsible for that crash, and he continues to have no shame now. That’s gall.”
That Mitchell is shameless is quite obvious — but calling him a “man” is a bit like calling a steer a “bull,” or a government employee a “worker.”
(h/t Mark Fee)1:46 pm on February 11, 2011 Email William Norman Grigg