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Kentucky Manslaughter Case to Use Automotive 'Black Box' as Evidence

September 14, 2004

A Kentucky manslaughter trial could join a growing number of cases nationwide in which jurors receive information from data recorders pulled from vehicles, according to the Associated Press. Federal officials estimate the so-called black boxes — similar to those found in aircraft — are installed in 15 percent of the nation’s 200 million passenger vehicles. Like their aerial counterparts, the black boxes in cars and trucks keep precise information about speed and braking just before a crash. The Kentucky case begins in January in Kenton County. Lloyd Robinson, of Florence, faces a manslaughter charge in the May 2003 death of Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Resources Officer Doug Bryant. Prosecutors say Bryant stopped Robinson along Interstate 75 near Florence, but Robinson allegedly sped away after Bryant got out of his truck to approach Robinson’s car. They both crashed, and Bryant, 62, was killed. The trial had been scheduled for this summer but was delayed after the judge ordered Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Crockett to subpoena Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. for the data from Bryant’s truck and make it available to Robinson’s lawyer. Mike Vaughn, a technology spokesman for Ford, said all Fords have had data recorders since 2002. Some of the boxes can record such information as pre-crash speed, braking, direction of travel and even seat-belt use.
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