New Mexico Man Guilty in Crash that Killed Navajo Man

November 14, 2005

A former insurance claims adjuster has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a crash that killed a Navajo man south of Farmington, N.M., last November.

Gregory LaDue’s attorney claimed the crash that killed Leonard Begay was a tragic accident, but a federal jury concluded following a trial in Albuquerque, N.M., that LaDue committed a crime.

Jurors found LaDue guilty of involuntary manslaughter based on reckless driving, which requires willful imperiling the life of another. LaDue faces up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors argued LaDue was impaired by methamphetamine. Blood tests conducted at a Farmington hospital following the Nov. 2, 2004, crash found a discernible amount of methamphetamine 0.12 milligrams per liter of blood.

Prosecutors said witnesses remembered being passed on the highway that day by LaDue, who was speeding and then slowing down to 25 miles per hour.

Defense attorney Robert Gorence said the amount of meth in LaDue’s system was meaningless because no experts had been called to explain whether the trace amount meant LaDue was in fact impaired at the time of the crash.

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