Evidence problems and an adverse ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court led to a plea agreement that is sending a 21-year-old Buckley, Pierce County, man to jail instead of prison for running down a 16-year-old boy in October 2012 while under the influence of marijuana and oxycodone.
Cody Money, an electrician, was originally charged with felony vehicular homicide and faced time in prison in connection with the Oct. 31, 2012, death of Justin Relethford, who was struck while walking with his girlfriend on the shoulder of Highway 410 near Enumclaw, according to court records.
However, problems with the case led prosecutors to allow him to plead guilty to reckless driving, reckless endangerment and DUI — all gross misdemeanors — on Dec. 4, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Donohoe explained that a state trooper trained as a drug-recognition expert evaluated Money and determined he was not impaired. Officials drew a sample of his blood anyway and found that he had nearly twice the legal level of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in his system. He also had taken oxycodone, a prescription narcotic pain killer.
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The arresting officer did not obtain a warrant before drawing Money’s blood, which was significant because the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in April narrowed the circumstances in which law-enforcement officers can obtain blood samples without a search warrant.
Donohoe said prosecutors determined the Supreme Court precedent applied in Money’s case and that the blood evidence would not be admissible. Donohoe said prosecutors obtained the best result they felt they could under the circumstances.
“The sentencing … is ridiculous. He took Justin’s life away and he gets to be walking free among us?” Teresa Relethford, Justin’s mother, told KING 5. “I think at this moment I’ve lost all faith in our justice system.”
After Money finishes his sentence of just less than a year in jail, he will be required to serve six months on enhanced CCAP (Community Center for Alternative Programs), which requires participants to report daily and undergo random tests for drug and alcohol consumption. Money was also ordered to undergo drug and alcohol treatment, Donohoe said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org