Not Again… The Meredith Baxley Tragedy


The phone rang that early Saturday morning. Earlier than my usual Saturday client calls; early enough to get your attention. When I saw the name flash on my iPhone I immediately answered. “Hello, Matt. You need to get over here. One of the girls in our apartment complex was struck and killed in front of our complex by a drunk driver last night.” And that’s how it started. No name, no age, no  details on happened other than that. Her roommate was devastated and I needed to get over there and explain to him what to expect. I had yet to discover the tragic story of Meredith Baxley.

As a former prosecutor (who prosecuted traffic homicides and drunk drivers) and judge (where I presided over many DUI trials and defendants) I had a good idea what I should expect; there are certain patterns that seem to occur. The drunk driver who hit and killed the victim probably survived the crash. He probably had prior run ins with law enforcement. The victim was probably a very vulnerable and beautiful young person or elderly person needlessly struck down, and both families of the victim and the defendant would be devastated. These seem to be almost a given in many cases.

Meredith’s Wheelchair

I arrived on the scene at Cabana Apartments to find Meredith’s roommate distraught . It was clear to me that his grief was both profound and sincere.  When I looked around the apartment, I noticed an old motorized scooter, and it was then that her roommate told me it belonged to Meredith, a young woman still in her 30’s. I was curious though. Why a young woman in her 30’s was in a wheelchair?

“It was a bad wreck”

Judge Johnston,

My name is Robert Prichard, case number 2007-002956. I entered a blind-plea to the charge of Assault 1st in your courtroom on August 29, 2008. My sentencing date is set for September 29, 2008. This is my first Felony charge. It was a bad wreck and I will have to live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life. I can not begin to explain how sorry I am for getting behind the wheel that night. I have a bad drug and alcohol problem and I was wondering if there is any way to get sentenced to a Drug-Rehab or some type of Alternative Sentencing so that I might be able to be close to home when my fiance has my son. I have three kids and one on the way, due in February of 2009. It this is at all possible, I would greatly appreciate it. One last chance is all I need and I will never be back in trouble again. I feel that I have learned my lesson but I need some help getting over the drug addiction. Thank you for your time.


Robert A. Prichard




Prichard mailed this letter to Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston on the eve of his sentencing. He had entered a blind plea, which meant that there was no negotiated plea with the district attorney’s office. His plea would be blind, that is not knowing what his sentence would be. He would be completely at the mercy of Judge Johnston. The letter is still part of the court file after nearly a decade.  Prichard made bond and was placed on electronic monitoring on September 14, 2017. However that didn’t go so well as he was back in jail after violating the conditions of his bond by testing positive for alcohol on July 23, 2008 and then testing positive for cocaine, marijuana, and benzodiazepines.


The Bad Wreck


It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2006 at approximately 9:35 when Mr. Prichard forever changed the life of several motorists on Dawes Lane near Dutchman Woods Drive that evening. Prichard was driving drunk that night when he crossed the center line and slammed head on into Meredith Baxley, a 1997 McGill-Toolen graduate and mother of two young children.

After injuring Baxley, Prichard plowed into two vehicles behind Meredith. The state trooper noted in his accident report that Prichard (Driver 1) later stated that his memory was not too good.


Meredith’s injuries were serious. She was transported from the scene by USA Lifeflight.


Now I know this beautiful young woman was  in a wheelchair. Meredith struggled over the next decade to find her way in the world. Prichard had denied her of  life as she knew it, her mobility, her job, and most importantly her independence. Meredith’s mother would raise her children as she attempted to gain her independence.

Robert Prichard Facebook Photo

Looking back, Robert was right about two things- he indeed had a bad alcohol and drug problem, and it was a bad wreck. Curiously he never mentioned Meredith or her children or family by name in his letter. Ultimately, Robert was shipped off to the state penitentiary, served his time and was released. As part of his probation upon release, Mobile County Circuit Court Judge  ordered Prichard to attend and complete a DUI victim impact panel and to give presentations to McGill High School students on the dangers of drunk driving.  Meredith later posted on her facebook page that both she and Prichard attended McGill High School.

rusty johnston
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston revoked Prichard’s bond and later sentenced him to the state penitentiary

Meanwhile, Meredith’s struggles continued. Her life and family  were left forever changed. As anyone who has experienced the ravages of a traumatic brain injury can attest, the physical therapy was grueling and the toll exacted was a heavy one.


Meredith and her mother Christine Frohock

February 5, 2017

She was just going to make a run across the street to the Dollar General.  That night she crossed Azalea Boulevard on her motorized scooter from The Crossings at Pinebrook. She often cut through the parking lots from her neighboring apartment complex at Cabana.


She made it to the Dollar General, and was on her way home when another driver sped in to her life.



Melvin “Orlando” Martin is no stranger to the criminal justice system. A convicted felon, Martin had prior arrests for attempted murder, assault,  robbery, domestic violence possession of a pistol without a permit, reckless endangerment, false name to police, marijuana possession. He was ultimately convicted of two counts of robbery and sent off to the penitentiary. DOC classified him as a violent offender, pushing his parole eligibility date back, and prohibiting other perks such as work release.DENIED

So he sued the Alabama Department of Corrections.

complaint 1st page
Melvin Martin Complaint suing the Alabama Department of Corrections

And he wanted some money too. He requested $189,820 in compensatory damages.

relief requestd $189,820

Melvin, just like the other driver who injured Meredith, was ultimately released from prison.  Melvin was back behind the wheel of a car as he barreled down Azalea Boulevard into poor Meredith Baxley on February 3, 2017.  Poor Meredith never had a chance. One drunk driver incapacitated her and finally another killed her. Police say Melvin was driving drunk and speeding when he ran over Meredith in her scooter. They say they found marijuana in has car too. They arrested him for manslaughter and possession of marijuana, 2nd degree. Traffic Homicide officer Jonathan Mixon was assigned the task of notifying Meredith’s family. Melvin was arrested,  made bond, and placed on electronic monitoring. He was released a free man. Some men just can’t handle freedom though. And Melvin was a prime example.

The Preliminary Hearing 

Thursday May 25, 2017 arrived and Melvin Martin appeared in court from jail. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office brought manslaughter and possession of marijuana, 2nd degree charges. Melvin gingerly walked into the courtroom escorted by a corrections officer. Melvin had violated the terms and conditions of his bond after he was arrested on May 6, 2017 for assaulting a police officer, public intoxication, and domestic violence. The state asked the judge to revoke the bonds he made in Meredith’s case because of the new arrests.

At the preliminary hearing the state was represented by Ashley Rich, the district attorney. Ashley called Traffic Homicide investigator Jonathan Mixon. Mixon testified that he was called to the scene of the crash. When he arrived on the scene he first saw Martin in the back of a patrol car. Mixon spoke with Martin and Mixon smelled the odor of alcohol, notice bloodshot eyes and Martin exhibited poor balance (all cues of impairment). Mixon read the implied consent to Martin asking him to consent to a blood draw. Martin refused, so Mixon had to draft a search warrant which a judge approved. The judge ordered two samples of the defendant’s blood be drawn. Armed with the search warrant, Mixon arrived at USA hospital. When confronted with the order, Martin responded, “No one will stick a needle in my arm.” Mixon testified Martin was uncooperative to the extent that Martin had to be restrained so the medical personnel could extract his blood. Apparently this scene was captured on one of the officer’s body cameras.

Martin Toxicology Results

Mixon testified he took two blood samples. The first sample he took at 9:50PM and the second sample he took at 10:50PM. The blood was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science Department. The defendant’s first sample result was 0.21. The second sample was 0.19. A driver is presumed under the influence of alcohol in the State of Alabama if he is blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol.


Mixon testified that he was able to secure the event data recorder from Martin’s vehicle. After securing a search warrant, Mixon downloaded the data that showed that at the moment of impact, Martin was traveling 56.7 mph. The posted limit in the area was 35mph. Mixon said there were no skid marks before impact. Mixon testified that officers discovered a green plant like material during an inventory of Martin’s vehicle which the Department of Forensic Sciences identified as marijuana.

On cross-examination, Martin’s attorney David Barnett (an accomplished veteran attorney who always fights hard for his clients) got Mixon to concede that Meredith was not in a cross walk when she was crossing Azalea Boulevard and that she was not wearing “contrasting clothing.” Barnett asked how the lighting in the area was, since Mixon testified he believed the accident occurred at 6:45PM. Martin refused to give a statement to the police.

It was Mixon’s conclusion that Martin’s intoxication and speed caused Meredith’s death. The judge found probable cause to bind the case over to the grand jury.

Martin’s New Arrests While on Bond for Killing Meredith


Ashley Rich next called two officers to testify as to how Martin had violated his bond by getting arrested again for Assault, 2nd Degree, Resisting Arrest, Domestic Violence,3rd Degree and Public Intoxication. Curiously I noted the first officer who testified hobbled to the podium on cruches and an AOC boot on. The District Attorney’s Office received notice from Mobile Community Corrections that the defendant had violated the terms of his bond. Ashley Rich asked the judge to revoke the defendant’s bond because of this.

crop-violation of bond

The responding police officer testified that police were called to a residence of a female who reported  Martin was harassing her. The female had subpoenaed Martin to take a blood test to confirm his paternity of her child. Martin came to her residence that day, May 6, 2017 to see his baby. The female victim told police that Martin took her baby that day. Eventually she got her baby back but Martin had returned to her house demanding to see the child and was harassing her. Police responded but by the time they arrived, Martin was gone. The female said Martin was wearing a white tanktop and sweat pants. Officers left and just happened to see a male matching Martin’s description at a gas station with a brown bag with what appeared to be a bottle in it. When this man saw the police, he walked behind the station (testimony revealed that he was attempting to avoid them). Police followed the man, who was shirtless but wearing grey sweatpants, but noticeably missing the brown paper bag.

The officer with the boot and on crutches continued on in his testimony. Since the man was similar to the description of Martin, he approached the male and asked him his name.

“You don’t need to know my name. What is YOUR name? I know the law. I know my rights!”

The man responded, “You don’t need to know my name. What is YOUR name? I know the law. I know my rights!” The officer testified that he was loud and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The man had slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes. When the officer attempted to handcuff the man, he forcibly resisted and the officer and man fell to the ground. Ultimately, after the man was arrested police found a white tank top in his grey sweat pants. On his ankle police discovered an electronic monitoring device. Police transported the female complainant to the scene and she positively identified the man as Melvin Martin. After falling to the ground with the defendant, the officer  was hurt. Paramedics were called to the scene and transported the officer to the hospital. His ankle was broken in three places and he had to have surgery to repair it. He has pins and screws in his ankle and is still hobbling around on crutches.

The State rested and the judge reset the hearing to be concluded on Wednesday.

Meredith’s parents were in court for the entire hearing. I sat with them. Despite Meredith’s compelling story, and the presence of a local news team in court, no one seemed interested in this tragic story. Think about that for a second. Have we become so desensitized to DUI homicides that it is no longer newsworthy when one drunk driver puts a young mother in the prime of her life in a wheelchair and another alleged DUI driver kills her? Media outlets were more concerned with covering Etoe Da Shooter, who was set the same day for a bond hearing.

And so Meredith’s parents and daughter shuffled out of the courtroom after the hearing. I couldn’t help but notice that her parents had a look of angst like they had traveled this road before. And I think to what Meredith would have thought that day too. Not Again…


The following week, the judge revoked Mr. Martin’s bond. Martin is currently incarcerated in Mobile Metro Jail awaiting a return of an indictment by a Mobile County grand jury. To his credit, Prescott Stokes of AL.COM covered the revocation. Bond revoked for murder suspect after allegedly assaulting a Mobile Cop

Meredith’s Passion


Meredith’s facebook page is a haunting reminder to us all . If you take a look at her Facebook page you see that she felt passionate drunk driving. The posts are both  prescient and heart breaking at the same time.






How Can You Help?

A Wells Fargo account has been established under Meredith Baxley Memorial Fund Acct number 7393437764 . Please consider donating. I did.


MEREDITH’S OBITUARY37118_1659982418953_1436495_n

Meredith Michele Baxley died when she was hit by an intoxicated driver on February 3,2017 in Mobile, AL at the age of 37.

Meredith is survived by her daughters, Morgan Baxley age 18 of Mobile and Melody Tuohy age 13 of Mobile, her mother and stepfather, Christine and Jeffrey Frohock Sr of Mobile, AL , her maternal grandmother, Lorraine Webster of Avon Park, FL, her paternal grandmother Ginny Baxley of Vadalia, Ga, her uncle Michael Webster of Avon Park, Fl, her aunt and uncle Dr & Mrs Jeffrey Frohock Jr of Charleston, SC, half-brother Brandon Baxley of Vadalia, Ga 

She is preceded in death by her father  William Baxley and her grandfather Winfield Webster

Meredith was born on May 18,1979 in Ft Lauderdale, Fl She graduated from McGill-Toolen in 1997 and attended South Ala for a short time. 

The family is maintaining a private memorial. 

In lieu of flowers the family is asking that any gestures be made in the form of donation set up for her daughters’education. Her two girls were her most prized possessions and always foremost in her thoughts

Nothing would honor her more than ensuring that they are cared for in her absence.  

A Wells Fargo account has been established under Meredith Baxley Memorial Fund Acct number 7393437764 or donations can be made to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) in her name.

Condolences may be sent to 13475 Laco Cooper Rd Wilmer, AL 36587


Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of DUI accidents. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

 Related News Stories

Memorial Service Planned For Meredith Baxley Monday Night

Woman in motorized wheelchair struck, killed by vehicle in Mobile, driver arrested

Driver charged after killing woman in wheelchair

Charges upgraded to manslaughter against man who hit woman in motorized wheelchair

Posts by Family Members & Friends


Mobile Woman Accused of Manslaughtering Own Brother involved in Two Prior High Speed Police Chases

We learned this week that a young woman killed her own brother here in Mobile County, Alabama.She has been charged with manslaughter. According to police and press accounts, 27 year old  Jamie McDole committed a theft at a Family Dollar in Irvington. Mobile County Sheriff deputies happened to be across the street at the time. They attempted to initiate a traffic stop when McDole sped off.

“When the officer hit the blue lights, they hit the gas pedal and they was Gone”

witness carla herrera
Witness Carla Herrera (Photo from WPMI)

WPMI reporter Christian Jennings interviewed  witness Carla Herrera who told her “whoever was driving eased out of the parking lot at first and whenever the officer turned his blue lights on, they hit the gas pedal and they were gone.” You can watch the interview here.

family dollar
Family Dollar where chase began (Photo from WPMI)

The driver was Jamie McDole. After fleeing the scene, she later crashed into a Dodge pickup truck at the intersection of Highway 90 and St. Elmo. The collision was so violent that it ripped McDole’s car in half. McDole’s boyfriend and her brother were in her car at the time.

McDole accident pic
McDole’s vehicle ripped in half

According to press reports  and law enforcement, as her boyfriend was injured and her brother lay dying, McDole abandoned both to steal a truck at a nearby gas station. McDole later crashed this vehicle out into a tree on Jay Drive. An ambulance arrived on scene to treat her for her injuries. Meanwhile a short time later, her brother succumbed to his injuries.

Ms. McDole was later discharged from the hospital and booked into Mobile Metro Jail for manslaughter in her brother’s death, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries x 2, theft of property, 1st Degree, and eluding police.

Long History of Drug & Alcohol Abuse

A review of McDole’s criminal history evidences that of a person consumed by addiction. Her arrest history just in the City of Mobile Municipal Court  includes:


Jacob McDonald
Killed in McDoles’s crash was her brother Jacob McDonald 



Her criminal history in state court includes:


McDole’s History of Eluding Police, High Speed Chases, & Leaving Scenes of Accidents

Jamie McDole
MCSO Narrative: She stated she had been smokin’ weed

McDole’s alleged conduct this past Wednesday was not her first time she has led police on high speed chases endangering the public. Mobile County Deputy Sheriff’s narrative relates the following harrowing high speed chase of McDole on March 22, 2008.

03-22-2008 at 00:35 hours

On above date at 0010 HRS I observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed west bound on Half Mile Road between Bellingrath Rd and Padgett Switch Rd with out [sic] lights on. As I was traveling East Bound on Same Road. I then turned my vehicle around on the vehicle (A Gold Ford Taurus) and followed it as it turned North onto Padgett Switch Rd. I then initiated my emergency lights to attempt to stop the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle increased speed and continued on turning west onto Highway 90, then North on Louis Tillman Rd to Boe Rd, Running all red lights and stop signs. The vehicle then crossed over March Rd continuing on Boe Rd to Gulf Blvd, then across Hwy 90 South on to Irvington BLB Highway and Ran the Red Light on Gibson Rd and continued to a dirt rd off Gibson where it came to a stop after striking a tree. The driver of the vehicle Ms. Jamie McDole (Suspect 1) jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the wooded area. I then pursued Suspect 1  on foot and apprehended her about 100 ft. from the vehicle. Suspect 1 was then placed into custody and charged with Reckless

reckless endangerment_Page_07
MCSO Incident/Offense Report & Narrative of McDole’s 2010 Marijuana Induced High Speed Chase, Crash, and Leaving Scene of Accident

Endangerment and DUI. Upon Inventory Search of the vehicle, a small Blount containing Marijuana was found on the Drivers [sic] seat. Suspect 1 stated (While in my back seat) that she had been smokin[sic] weed. Suspect 1 had a very slurred speech and her pupils were dilated was transported to Metro Jail and Mizells Towed the vehicle. Upon my arrival to Metro Jail they advised me that because Ms. McDoles [sic] unknown influence of drugs they could not book her until she was seen checked and released by a medical professional. Ms. McDole was then transported to USA Medical Center, upon completion of a medical evaluation. Ms. McDole was then transported to USA Medical Center, upon completion of a medical evaluation Ms. McDole was transported back to Metro Jail. Suspect 2  Amanda Hicks was not charged and was given a ride home by Res. Deputy Emmons.


SHOTS FIRED: McDole’s Oxycontin Induced 2010 Prichard  & Mobile Police Chase

In May of 2010, McDole was in a police chase, this time involving two jurisdictions. Police officers even fired on her after she attempted to run them over. According to an AL.COM report:

Jamie McDole

PRICHARD, Alabama — A man and a woman were arrested Thursday morning after leading Prichard Police on a chase that ended in west Mobile, according to a news release.

Driver Jamie McDole, age 22, of Irvington and passenger James Harris, age 49, possibly of Butler were observed by Prichard Police backing into an automobile at Dunlap and Telegraph roads and pursued after leaving the scene, police said. The pursuit continued from Interstate 165 to Interstate 65 before the suspects exited on Airport Boulevard.

The chase finally stopped in the Books-A-Million parking lot at Pinebrook Shopping Center near McGregor Avenue, where the Mobile Police Department was contacted for assistance.

There, the report states that McDole attempted to run over police officers, who fired at the vehicle to get it to stop. There were no injuries as a result, it said.

The subjects were transported back to the Prichard Police Department, where it was discovered McDole had taken a number of Oxycontin tablets. EMS was called and she was transported to USA Medical Center for evaluation.

After being released, she will be charged with a number of charges, including possession of marijuana, attempting to elude police, resisting arrest and reckless endangerment. The other subject, Harris, was charged with 1st degree possession of marijuana and transported to Mobile County Metro Jail.

At the time of this incident, Ms. McDole was out on bond for Theft of Property 1st Degree and Filing a False Police Report (according to the complaint, she falsely reported to police that she had been raped) She later pled to a misdemeanor theft and the false report was nolle prossed.

McDole Leaves Drug Treatment

Perhaps drug treatment may be the answer for McDole one may think?  In 2015, McDole was arrested for assaulting  a police officer and public lewdness. The officer responded to  Carol Plantation Road to find McDole topless in the street.
lewdness complaint
McDole’s Public Lewdness Complaint
After taking McDole into custody for her public lewdness, the officer alleged she then assaulted him.
assaulted officer crop
While in jail, she requested drug treatment and was granted it. She was transported from Metro Jail  to the Haven of Hope for Women. The court file notes that she later left rehab.


In 2015, the father of McDole’s then two year old child filed a protection from abuse petition against McDole. In his petition he alleged that she claimed to be pregnant and sent for him. He wrote that McDole claimed illness upon his arrival and was abusive to him. The man she was with then hit him in the head with a beer bottle putting him in the ICU. The father alleged that McDole was mentally ill, abusive to herself and others in the past and get this—has run over him with her automobile and bitten him. On February 17, 2016 the judge dismissed the complaint after the father failed to appear in court.
2015 PFA filed against McDole that was later dismissed after the Plaintiff failed to appear


This all brings us back to last Wednesday and how we got there. I wonder as to the conversation between McDole and her boyfriend and her brother in the moments before she crashed her vehicle ripping it apart. Did she know her brother lay dying nearby? Did she know her boyfriend too was harmed? What prompted Jamie McDole to flee that day? Was it the outstanding warrants? Was it her fear of prison? Was she under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Whatever the motivation, she needlessly endangered countless other motorists in addition to the occupants of her vehicle. It appears this conduct that resulted in the death of her brother was in keeping with a long line of prior similar conduct. I would like to say this was a freak accident by an isolated reckless driver, but unfortunately our roads, streets, highways and interstates are filled with these drivers every day. Two days later on Friday WPMI reported  another innocent motorist injured by a violent crash and motorist who fled the scene of the accident. As a former municipal court judge, I saw this far too often. As an attorney who now represents accident victims, I see it routinely.


McDole is set for a preliminary hearing before Judge Jill Phillips on June 28, 2017 on her current charges.

Related Reading: Woman charged with manslaughter in brother’s death


Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at

police academy lecture

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.



Bon Secour DUI Salt Life Suspect’s Salty History

More reported DUI madness this past week in the area. Debbie Williams with WKRG reported that a suspected DUI driver crashed into The Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar on Thursday night.TIN TOPP

Alabama State Troopers responded to the scene and discovered what they believed to be heroin in the vehicle. As reported by Williams, the crash could have been much worse considering the driver crashed into a table where just moments before a family of four with a baby was seated. However, at least one person was injured according to the WKRG report.

As is so often the case with DUI cases like this , the defendant, 50-year old David Emmons,  has a lengthy criminal history . So it is not a shock to learn that on May 22, 2017 Emmons was granted a pretrial diversion and allowed to enter the Butler County Alabama Drug Court on charges related to his arrest in 2015 for trafficking in—you got it,  heroin.

trafficking indictment crop

trafficking indictment crop 2

On May 22, 2017, it  looks like the heroin trafficking charge was dismissed in lieu of a plea to possession of a controlled substance.


It appears Emmons made it a whole ten (10) days before violating  the terms and conditions of his pretrial diversion.  He is set for drug court docket/hearing on June 16, 2017 in Butler County. It appears he had sage legal counsel considering Emmons had been granted pretrial diversion in a prior felony drug case stemming from a 2006 arrest in Lauderdale County.

Syringes & Heroin Found in vehicle

Authorities say that they found syringes and heroin in Emmons vehicle. The manager of the restaurant, Brittney Briand, snapped this photograph of the interior of the defendant’s vehicle after the crash.

heroin syringe
Photograph from Restaurant Manager Brittney Briand


According to Briand, the crash shook the restaurant. “It was clear there was something amiss. There was a loud commotion and the entire restaurant just stood up.” And even

Photograph from Restaurant Manager Brittney Briand

then the defendant kept going according to Briand:  “The car did not stop that first time, it kept going, ended up smashing that table up against the wall.”


It sounds like as bad as it was, it could have been much worse., although one person was injured. According to witnesses, Emmons passed out behind the wheel across the street at a  stop sign at a 4 way stop on County Road 49. Motorists behind him laid on their horns causing him to speed through the intersection and crash in to the restaurant.

Emmons, like all accused of criminal conduct, is presumed innocent of his charges. He is currently in the Baldwin County Jail.

I am sure his counsel will ask for another shot at drug treatment. Do you think he deserves it? If guilty, perhaps it may be time to consider alternative sentencing options.

Hopefully he has automobile insurance to cover any bodily injury he caused and coverage to repay the The Tin Top  in Bon Secour for the damage he caused.



Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

I’ve been Injured by a broke DUI driver, so who pays the bills?

A DUI driver slams into the back of a busload of kids on the way to school. We hear this case far too often. Unfortunately we heard it here this past week in Mobile County. The Mobile County School bus was packed with 20 middle school children when the defendant slammed into the back of the bus. Accounts varied on the injuries but at least one child was reported as suffering from injuries. Mobile County Public School buses do not have seat belts, except for special needs students.

russell mug
Daniel Russell DUI Charge after striking school bus full of middle schoolers. (Photo by MCSO)

The defendant was arrested for DUI and booked into Mobile County Metro Jail. Reports indicated that the defendant was refusing to cooperate with the authorities during the booking intake (not a surprise considering his history-prior resisting arrest charge). And this DUI defendant, like many defendants I prosecuted and judged, is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has a prior 1997 DUI Conviction for DUI and arrests dating back to 1992 for

  • Domestic Violence
  • Harassment
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Burglary, 1st
  • Improper Signal
  • Driving While License Suspended
  • Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree
  • Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Public Intoxication (GUILTY)
  • Resisting Arrest (GUILTY)
  • Receiving Stolen Property, 2nd Degree
  • Assault, 3rd Degree


According to paperwork submitted by the arresting state trooper, the defendant admitted that he had taken a “Lortab” prior to the crash.

officer narrative2

officer narrative How do the victims of a crime get compensated?

Any victim of a crime is always entitled to file paperwork with the prosecuting authority (whether it be the City of Mobile or the State of Alabama) seeking restitution. Since this crash was in the county and was investigated by a state trooper, the State of Alabama would be the prosecuting authority, so the district attorney would oversee.


The Mobile County District Attorney’s office has a victim’s service office and an victim service officer (“VSO”) who can guide you through the process for restitution recovery. Some of the services they offer include are:

  • Court Orientation
  • Helping victims understand their rights
  • Referrals (Counseling, Social Services, etc.)
  • Emergency Services
  • Escorting to Court
  • Restitution
  • Assisting with requests for compensation through the Alabama Crime Victim’s Compensation Commission
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Intimidation Protection
  • Assisting with Victim Impact Statements
  • Public Education

However in a case like this, that may involve multiple victims and a defendant with little or no ability or assets to satisfy the restitution ordered for multiple claimants, collection becomes problematic. Unfortunately this is a very common occurrence victims run up against. What should you do next?


First and foremost you should contact an attorney (the quicker the better) who specializes in personal injury cases, particularly one who has a good working knowledge of criminal law and who has worked in the criminal justice system. Since your personal injury case is intertwined with a criminal case, there will be a criminal investigation with a collection of evidence.

For instance in this DUI bus crash, the state trooper will take photographs, perform field sobriety tests (taking field notes to quantify the defendant’s compromised ability to safely operate a motor vehicle). The trooper will perhaps administer a portable breath test on the scene, capture and secure video (via body camera or in vehicle camera) of the scene and the defendant and witnesses. The trooper will help book and process the defendant (also filmed at Metro Jail) and administer the breath test approved by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences- the Drager Device. He may event interview first responders and witnesses to the crash.  He may retrieve Event Data Recorder information-preserving critical crash data (like speed). If a fatality ensues, an autopsy and toxicology report will be done. All of this is valuable evidence to held you prove your case and obtain a fair recovery.

A good personal injury attorney will give you a free consultation and explain how the cases will proceed, and what to expect when you receive a subpoena for the criminal trial. That’s right there are two cases- the criminal prosecution and the civil case for money damages. Both involve the same facts but both involve differing burdens of proof, different law, and quite different legal dynamics. A good attorney can help you navigate both.


Usually the Accident Report will have this information. However, if it is missing you can always have your attorney check on this. If the driver is insured that’s’ great. However, in many instances the driver will have minimal coverage in Alabama- $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident. So what happens if your damages exceed the policy limits of the driver who injured you, or if the driver who injured you had no insurance at all?


This is the coverage part of your auto policy you probably know the least about, and yet is the most important coverage you own insurance can offer you. STOP RIGHT NOW and check your policy to see if you have UM coverage. If you do not, buy it now. If you have UM coverage, your own insurance will pay for all damages (other than property) reasonably related to the accident. So if the DUI driver who injures you has no insurance coverage, you would make a UM claim under your own auto insurance policy. The same goes for any injuries you suffer above and beyond the policy limits of the DUI driver who injured you.

If you are seriously injured by an uninsured driver, and you are out of work with no income coming in or drastically reduced, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is critical to providing that safety net for otherwise crippling medical bills. TALK TO YOUR AGENT NOW and confirm you have it or get it.

One other point, Alabama UM law does allows what we call the stacking of insurance coverage.  You are allowed to stack 3 cars on one insurance policy. That means that if you have three vehicles with $25,000 in UM Coverage you can stack them to reach $75,000 in UM coverage if your injuries or the nature of the case warrants it. It should be noted that you can stack an unlimited number of insurance policies if your injuries warrant it.


Many auto insurance companies offer Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay). This is great for those of you injured in an automobile accident (regardless of who is at fault) and either have no medical insurance to cover medical bills, who have out of pocket expenses (co-pays and procedures/tests  either not approved by your healthcare provider or only partially paid by your healthcare provider). Medical payment coverage extends generally to the policyholder, passengers, or a member of the policyholder’s family. This coverage applies if you are riding in another person’s vehicle, using public transportation, or even walking across the street. Here is good explanation of MedPay coverage on State Farm Automobile Insurance Company’s website.


The attorney you consult will explain to you that juries and judges tend to compensate victims more when they are injured by the reckless or wanton conduct. In the above example of the DUI driver who slammed into the school bus, it appears a good claim may be made for wantonness. The driver was arrested for DUI and had a prior history of DUI conviction. Additionally, a closer look at his probation indicates he was ordered to attend and complete a DUI School. DUI school typically involves multiple classes, with each class lasting several hours of instruction on the dangers DUI.

Plus the defendant’s reckless conduct expose at least 20 people to harm, 20 children. A strong case may be made for wantonness and additional damages beyond just your medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Hope this helps.

About the Author:

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He served as a municipal court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides (including drunk drivers who injured innocent victims), and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

Local Stories on the DUI Suspect Rear Ending Mobile County School Bus

MCPSS: DUI suspect rear ends Mobile County school bus