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Homicide charge dropped following blood test mistake



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The Tooele County Attorney's Office is dropping vehicular homicide charges against a man involved in a fatal Tooele accident in December. Steven Jakeman was facing the charges in connection with the death of UPS driver Alan Christofferson. Jakeman told KSL he was innocent and the blood alcohol test was contaminated.

According to the attorney's office, there was a mistake in the initial blood test. After retesting his blood, prosecutors are sure he wasn't under the influence at the time.

Turns out it was a human error made at the state lab that resulted in the blood-alcohol content reading double the legal limit.

Both the prosecutor and the lab supervisor say they're sorry this happen, but they're also relieved they caught the mistake before the case went any further. Tooele County Attorney Gary Searle said, "We found the truth, and we found the facts. Mr. Jakeman was not under the influence of alcohol."

Three weeks ago, Steven Jakeman told KSL he was innocent in the vehicular homicide case brought against him. He said, "I don't drink. I'm a firm believer. I grew up in an alcoholic home. I just don't believe in alcohol, and I've been clean from drugs and alcohol for 20 years. He wasn't lying.

And now there's proof. Today, Searle said, "Mr. Jakeman was not under the influence of alcohol. His name should be cleared of that. I hope it's made clear. This was a mistake."

Homicide charge dropped following blood test mistake

When prosecutors had the blood retested at a private lab, Jakeman's BAC levels came back triple zeros, no alcohol at all. To be safe, they had it retested with the state lab. Same result.

Searle said, "It would be stupid for me to say that he didn't go through any trauma or have any heartache over being charged. Who wouldn't have heartache or concern with being charged with a felony?

Homicide charge dropped following blood test mistake

Now the crime lab is taking extra precautions to make sure this never happens again, including extra steps of verification, supervisors double-checking work and case reviews at the end.

Supervisors say they're turning this into a positive learning experience. Layco said, "We're reminded of the effects that our work has on real people."

The attorney's office says they might still file charges for failure to yield and a license issue. Either way, he's no longer facing a felony charge.

Jakeman claimed that diesel fuel at the scene of the accident contaminated his blood, resulting in a reading of .19 blood alcohol content. Prosecutors say that although that theory was interesting, it was false.

The crash happened on State Road 36 on Dec 1. Christofferson was killed in the accident.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com
E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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