Dover, NJ, Man Faces DWI Manslaughter Charges for Drunk Driving Deaths of Two Morris County Teens

Being charged with drunk driving in New Jersey is bad enough without having caused an accident as a result of being intoxicated. Killing another individual while under the influence of alcohol is another thing entirely. Police all across the state of New Jersey are always on the lookout for drivers operating motor vehicles while impaired due to beer, liquor or prescription drugs.

As a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer, I have defended many clients who have been charged with drunk driving. Some of those people were involved in accidents that injured or killed vehicle occupants or pedestrians. A recent news article shows how mixing alcohol with prescription drugs can result in terrible consequences. There are very few things worse than being arrested for a fatal drunk driving accident.

According to reports, Jury selection began Tuesday in Morristown regarding the drunk driving trial of 48-year-old Eugene Baum Jr. The man is charged with being drunk behind the wheel and causing the deaths of two teenagers back in 2006 when his car hit and killed the young girls on a Morris County roadside.

Police reports indicate that on April 20, 2006, Baum was driving a rented Kia Optima along Kinnelon Road in Kinnelon, NJ, when the vehicle veered off the roadway and onto the shoulder where the two girls were walking. Police records show that the defendant’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was 0.305 percent when the accident happened. Based on news reports, Baum’s vehicle struck 15-year-old Mayada Jafar and 16-year-old Athear Jafar. The two cousins were reportedly walking to a nearby movie theater around 8pm when they were thrown off the shoulder by the impact.

Police have said that although Baum was severely intoxicated, he still decided to drive from his home in Dover to his mother’s house in Kinnelon. During the police interview, he allegedly said that he thought he had struck a deer. He also later acknowledged that he should not have mixed Librium and vodka.

A mental health expert hired by the state has stated that Baum was “a functioning alcohol” at the time of the accident and that he could apparently tolerate high levels of alcohol in his bloodstream. In Baum’s defense, an expert has suggested that Baum became an “automaton” when he drank and the combination of vodka and Librium in his body had an unexpectedly severe reaction that led to the crash.

Since Baum has rejected the state’s plea offer of 20 years in state prison, with 85 percent of the time to be served before parole consideration, his case is now going to trial. If convicted of the two counts of aggravated manslaughter, he could be facing as much as 60 years in prison.

According to reports, the judge in the case ruled last week to include Baum’s videotaped statements to police following the 2006 crash. The judge also ruled that Baum could not pursue a defense of ”pathological intoxication,” which refers to a person who unwittingly becomes intoxicated. In this case, the defendant admitted to consuming alcohol but claimed he did not know that its effects could be exacerbated by also taking the anti-anxiety drug Librium.

Jury selection under way for man charged with drunk driving deaths in Kinnelon, DailyRecord.com, January 20, 2010