State appeals boat crash case dismissal

Print Article

SANDPOINT — The state is appealing the dismissal of a misdemeanor criminal charge filed against a Seattle man who plowed his powerboat into another vessel on Priest Lake last summer.

Todd Frederick Stauber was charged with grossly negligent operation of a vessel, but a Bonner County Magistrate Court judge granted a defense motion to dismiss charge on grounds that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The charge arose from a collision at Luby Bay on July 4. Stauber crashed his boat broadside into an anchored cabin cruiser following a fireworks display. A couple aboard the cabin cruiser were not injured, although several people on Stauber’s vessel were hurt.

The section of Idaho Code under which Stauber was cited makes it illegal to operate a vessel in a manner which endangers persons or property. Stauber’s Sandpoint attorney, Bryce Powell, moved for the charge to be dismissed because the law was so vague that even lawful conduct at the helm could be deemed criminal.

The statute does not expressly state what conduct is considered illegal.

Powell lashed his argument to a 1958 Idaho Supreme Court case against a motorist who was charged with negligent driving. The high court threw out the charge because the statute was unconstitutionally vague.

The language under the former negligent driving statute is strikingly similar to the current negligent operation of a vessel statute.

Judge Debra Heise granted Stauber’s motion in January, ruling that the negligent operation of a vessel statute was unconstitutionally vague.

Although the state later amended the negligent driving statute in light of the supreme court case, state lawmakers inexplicably adopted the original law’s faulty language when they drafted the negligent operation of a vessel law in the 1980s.

In her appeal filed on Wednesday, Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Katie Murdock is asking a 1st District Court judge to determine whether Heise correctly ruled that the statute is unconstitutionally void for vagueness.

Heise’s ruling led to the dismissal of a negligent operation of a vessel charge against a Sandpoint man who crashed his powerboat into an unoccupied sailboat moored on Lake Pend Oreille last August.

However, Jonathan Richard Beckley, 37, still faces charges of misdemeanor injury to a child and other violations of Idaho’s Safe Boater Act.

A court trial date in Beckley’s case has yet to be determined.

Print Article

Read More News

Jury vetting process determined

July 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press COEUR d’ALENE — As part of a vetting process, 1,000 Kootenai County residents tapped for the jury pool in the trial of Jonathan D. Renfro must complete a 40-page survey before being selected to appea...

Comments

Read More

Murphree named chamber’s top volunteer

July 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — Thanks to Michele Murphree, there are gardens at local elementary schools as well as at the Bonner Community Food Center and Early Head Start. Those efforts and a drive to improve childr...

Comments

Read More

Commission seeks sculptures

July 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — The Sandpoint Arts Commission is looking for artists to submit their sculptures for consideration For the "Silver Box Project” — a city-wide, on-loan art competition of annually rota...

Comments

Read More

Man goes missing near Clark Fork

July 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a man who last seen in the Clark Fork area on July 12. David A. Xanatos, 37, is Caucasian male who is 6 ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X