A Michigan jury found a 52-year-old man guilty of second-degree murder in connection with a traffic collision that left five bicyclists dead.
According to Boston.com, Charles Pickett was convicted Tuesday in a Kalamazoo County courtroom.
His attorneys conceded he had taken drugs including painkillers prior to getting behind the wheel of his truck in June 2016 and ramming into a group of bicycles.
A total of nine riders were struck in the fatal impact. Three women and two men were among those killed. They ranged in age from 42 to 74.
“We’re not saying he’s innocent as a newborn babe,” argued defense attorney Keith Turpel. “He did things he shouldn’t have done that day.”
The lawyer said his client did not know, however, that the drugs he ingested that fateful day would impair his ability to drive.
One witness testified that she was with Pickett when he took various drugs following a funeral service being held for his cousin.
“That’s real smart, Charlie,” Pamela Barletta recalled telling him. “Before I could say anything else he just drove away.”
According to assistant prosecutor Michael Kanaby, the charges against Pickett were warranted. Specifically, he cited a close call on the road that preceded the fatal collision with the bicyclists.
In addition to reports that he drove erratically through several area communities after taking the pills, Kanaby said he narrowly avoided striking a pedestrian.
“He could have stopped there and said, ‘Holy cow, I’m not fit to be on the road,'” the prosecutor said. “But he didn’t do that. He smashed into those people, destroying their bodies, their lives.”
[Featured image: Charles Pickett/Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Department via AP]