INDEPENDENCE — A judge has declined to throw out charges against reality TV star Chris Soules in the April crash that killed an Aurora farmer.
Defense attorneys had asked the court to dismiss a felony leaving-the-scene charge against Soules, arguing that Soules had stopped following the collision, called 911 and identified himself, and rendered aid to 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher until medics arrived.
Prosecutors said Soules, 36, of rural Arlington, left the scene before law enforcement arrived and then refused to leave his home until sheriff’s deputies obtained a warrant.
Soules’ trial had been scheduled for Jan. 18 in Buchanan County District Court in Independence but was postponed during a Thursday conference. A new date will be set later this month.
During a November hearing, Soules’ defense attorney Robert Montgomery argued that the charges should be thrown out because Iowa law — written before the advent cell phones — was vague as it applied to the case and was unconstitutional because it infringed on Soules’ right against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination.
In a ruling handed down Friday, 1st District Judge Andrea Dryer declined to dismiss the charges, allowing the case to move toward trial.
“Under this construction, the defendant’s conduct does not clearly fall outside the statute,” she wrote in her ruling. “The statute is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the defendant.”
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Dryer also found the statute doesn’t amount to unreasonable seizure and doesn’t require self-incrimination.
“The existence of a statute that imposes duties upon all surviving drivers of vehicles involved in accidents causing the death of a person, as part of a chapter regulating motor vehicles and their use in this state, is not a ‘seizure’ under either the United States or Iowa Constitution,” she wrote.
“Only evidence that is testimonial in nature is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” the ruling stated. “... The act of remaining at or returning to the scene of an accident causing a person’s death is no more testimonial than a person in custody’s submission to fingerprinting, photographing or other physical measurements, writing or speaking for identification, standing, walking, or making a particular gesture, or submission to a blood test.”
During the November hearing, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown, who is prosecuting the case, argued the law requires drivers to remain at a scene to allow law enforcement to collect information about the crash. He said Soules left after only about 14 minutes.
Last month, defense attorney Brandon Brown submitted a notice that Soules may use a diminished capacity defense, based on injuries he sustained.