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Driver Charged with Murder After Black Box Shows Vehicle Was Traveling 70 MPH

May 10, 2005

FARMINGTON HILLS — The driver of a 2005 GMC Yukon Denali who police say caused a four-car crash that killed a woman and her two sons was charged May 5 with three counts of second-degree murder, according to the Detroit News.According to the newspaper, Thomas Wellinger, 48, of Farmington Hills was arraigned from his room at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where he is recovering from a broken neck. Not guilty pleas to the charges were entered for him, added the Detroit News.Police said a severely intoxicated Wellinger slammed his Yukon into a 1999 Honda driven by Judith Reiff Weinstein, 49, who was with her sons, Alex, 12, and Sam, 9. The three Weinsteins, legally stopped in a lane waiting to make a left turn, were killed when the crash sent their vehicle into the path of oncoming cars, police said.The charge against Wellinger was elevated to murder based on new evidence obtained from the Yukon's sensory diagnostic module — more commonly known as a black box — and analyzed by the Michigan State Police, reported the Detroit News."The information is pretty telling," said Farmington Hills Police Chief William Dwyer. "It shows the Yukon traveling at 70 miles per hour at the time of impact and at no point for five seconds prior to the crash was there any application of the brakes," he said in the newspaper article.
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