The lawyer representing Andrew Kelly, the off-duty NYPD officer who last September killed pedestrian Vionique Valnord, then refused to submit to alcohol tests, has indicated that his line of defense will go something like this: The victim precipitated her own death by drinking at a wedding before my client ran her down on a Brooklyn street.
"There was alcohol in her system and witnesses at the wedding said she
was clearly, visibly intoxicated," said attorney Arthur Aidala at a hearing on Tuesday. "This goes to solidify the fact that
this was just a terrible accident."
Kelly himself was reported to be visibly intoxicated after hitting Valnord as she tried to hail a taxi. Yet in today’s papers both the Post and Daily News point out that Valnord was legally too drunk to drive. Here’s the News:
[Valnord] had a blood alcohol level of .22 – nearly three times the legal limit
if she had been driving, according to the toxicology report.
Now the Post:
The minister’s daughter run down and killed by an allegedly drunk
off-duty cop last fall was drunk herself, with a blood-alcohol
percentage more than three times the legal DWI limit, sources told The
The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.
Clearly the Post, at least, is on board with equating DWI and attempting to catch a cab after drinking: The victim’s autopsy results, the Post says, "bolster" Kelly’s claim that "it was Valnord who was to blame for the accident … when she raced out into
the street mid-block with no warning."
Trifling as it may be, the fact is Valnord wasn’t driving, and Kelly was. Said Valnord’s sister Ruth Jean: "What does it matter she had something at a wedding if he’s the one driving drunk."
Kelly’s defense is not without precedent. Richard Anderson refused a Breathalyzer test after he struck and killed Florence Cioffi
in Manhattan two years ago this month, and was ultimately able to plea down to a sentence of 16 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. According to the News, Cioffi’s lawyer suspected prosecutors backed down because Cioffi was intoxicated when she was hit.
Maybe Valnord could have avoided being put on trial herself by evading a blood alcohol analysis long enough to clear her system, as Kelly allegedly did. If only Kelly hadn’t killed her first.