Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Drunk Driver Extradited from Ireland

Five years after the fatal accident, Fred Russell is being extradited from Ireland to stand trial for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault (three counts of each) in Whitman County. Fugitive en route home after 5 years in Ireland, Seattle Times, Nov. 10, 2006.

In June 2001, Russell was driving to a party in Moscow, ID, after leaving a bar in Pullman. His SUV crossed the center line and hit a car with 7 WSU students who were headed back to Pullman after going to a movie in Moscow. Three of the students were killed and three were injured. In August 2001, he pleaded not guilty to all counts. Before a pretrial hearing, he had a friend drive him to Canada, and eventually landed in Ireland.

He was arrested in Dublin, where he was living under an assumed name, after a tip from someone who recognized him from the U.S. Marshals Most Wanted website. Irish Police Arrest U.S. Marshals' 15 MOST WANTED Fugitive Sought for Vehicular Homicide in Washington State (press release from U.S. Marshals Service), Oct. 24, 2005.

Ireland often denies extradition to the U.S., but in this case, the High Court (which is below the Supreme Court in Ireland) granted it. Attorney General v. Russell, [2006] IEHC 164 (23 May 2006).

The three arguments raised by Russell and rejected by the court were: (1) Despite prosecutor's assurances, he might be prosecuted for bail jumping or interstate flight, which are not extraditable. (2) He feared for his life, since some friends of the victims had threatened him. (3) He might be subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatment" in a Washington prison. After the decision, he was also turned down for political asylum.

Russell's new attorney is Francisco Duarte (a Trial Ad instructor). He says that he will seek a change of venue, since public opinion is very heated in Whitman County. (This remark was in the version of the Seattle Times article on LexisNexis but not in the one on the website.)

Graphic from U.S. Marshals wanted poster.

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