Connecticut Prosecutors to Seek Retrial in Avon Mountain Crash Case

June 6, 2008

A Connecticut prosecutor says he will seek a retrial after a jury deadlocked earlier this week in an insurance fraud case against the owner of a dump truck that caused a fatal wreck in Avon in 2005.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Edward Mullarkey declared a mistrial in the case against David Wilcox, 72, of Windsor, after the six jurors said they could not reach a verdict.

Wilcox and his wife, Donna, are charged with trying to restore liability coverage on the dump truck, minutes after its breaks failed on Route 44 and it smashed into cars at the bottom of Avon Mountain on July 29, 2005. Four people died and 19 others were injured in the fiery crash.

David Wilcox also faces a separate trial on manslaughter charges. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

Prosecutor John Malone said he is not giving up on the insurance fraud case and will seek a retrial, The Hartford Courant reported.

“I’m bitterly disappointed in the lack of a result,” Malone said.

The state alleges that Wilcox and his wife didn’t tell their insurance agent about the accident as they tried to restore coverage. His wife has pleaded no contest to attempted insurance fraud, attempted larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny and awaits sentencing.

Defense attorneys had argued that Wilcox believed the truck was insured. A crash investigator testified that Wilcox gave him an insurance liability card for the truck hours after the crash.

The jurors sent the judge a note Wednesday, asking if they could consider the fact that Donna Wilcox was not asked to testify in her husband’s trial.

Mullarkey told the jury to make their decision based only upon the evidence that had been presented.

After the mistrial was declared, crash victim Mark Robinson confronted Wilcox about his silence since the accident. Robinson, 51, suffered nine broke ribs and a punctured lung.

Wilcox responded, “I’ve been hurting for years because that’s my first and only crash that’s ever hurt anyone.”

Robinson then accused Wilcox of having a record of “a thousand safety violations.”

“That’s not true,” Wilcox said as his lawyer tried to silence him for a second time during the exchange, the Courant reported.

Juror Jonathan Warren told reporters that the panel was deadlocked, in part, because half the jury believed the testimony of one of Wilcox’s employees and the other half did not.

Yvette Melling, who worked for Wilcox’s company, American Crushing & Recycling, testified that Donna Wilcox had said that her husband told her to reinstate insurance on the company’s trucks after the crash.

Warren said half the jury didn’t believe Melling, because she testified during cross-examination that she had not included her claim of what Donna Wilcox had said about her husband’s instructions in previous statements to police and prosecutors.

Warren also said some jurors disputed whether a series of phone calls among David Wilcox, his wife, a truck driver and his son after the crash was proof of a conspiracy, because it was not known what was said during the calls.

The mistrial came three weeks into the insurance fraud trial and on the fourth day of deliberations.

Ray Hassett, Wilcox’s lawyer, said he suspected the state would want to retry the case.

“Clearly (David Wilcox) would have preferred a not guilty finding, as would I,” Hassett said. “The fact still remains that there were at least three jurors that agreed with his defense. We’re prepared, if necessary, to do this all over again.”

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