St. Johnsbury Defense Attorney David Sleigh has long argued that his client was not texting behind the wheel when his car hit and killed an oncoming motorcyclist in 2020. But Judge Justin Jiron has now ruled against Attorney Sleigh’s motion that the court should not admit the State’s evidence of the defendant’s cell phone use on the day of the collision. David Rath, 44, of Kirby, is accused of causing the death of East Burke resident Philip Barrett, 43, during a collision on Red Village Road in Lyndon. “The evidence of Defendant’s cell phone use on the day of the collision is relevant,” wrote Judge Jiron in his ruling. The state has argued that Rath was actually looking down at his phone and texting or reading a text immediately before the collision. Rath has pleaded not guilty to charges of gross, negligent operation with death resulting and two counts of gross negligent operation with serious physical injury resulting. Rath is currently facing a possible sentence of up to 45 years in prison and $45,000 in fines if convicted on all the charges.
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