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Jury convicts Eagle man of vehicular manslaughter

Adam Paulson. Photo courtesy ACSO.

After four hours of deliberation Friday, jurors convicted Adam Paulson of vehicular manslaughter in the November 2017 death of 24-year-old Madeline Duskey.

For about two hours Friday morning, attorneys in the case of Adam Paulson, 43, presented their closing arguments. Paulson is charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of Madeline Duskey. Paulson struck Duskey shortly after midnight Nov. 18, 2017. He had been drinking — prosecutor Scott Bandy said his blood-alcohol content tested as high as .213 — and he was also driving 53 mph in a 40 mph zone.

“If you are a sober driver the last thing you should remember before the collision is Maddie Duskey’s face...as he plows into her at 53 miles an hour, her face should be right in front of his face,” Bandy said. “He doesn’t know that because he’s not even looking at the road.”

Central to the case is the question of whether Paulson’s drunk driving and speeding caused Duskey’s death, or whether — as Paulson’s defense attorneys claim — Duskey caused her own death by stepping into an eight-lane intersection after midnight when she did not have the right of way. The mother of two children had been drinking at a nearby bar with some friends that night, Bandy said, and had a similar blood-alcohol content to Paulson.

“The difference is when Adam Paulson is done drinking with his friends, he tried to drive his 2016 Chevy Silverado,” Bandy said.

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A cornerstone of Paulson’s defense was the idea that a sober driver could not have avoided the crash — and thus Duskey was responsible for her own death. Paulson’s attorneys called another driver as a witness, who testified she believed the crash occurred two car lengths before the well-lit intersection. That darkness, combined with the fact that Duskey was wearing all black that night, made it impossible for anyone to stop in time, they contended throughout the trial.

“(Pedestrians) assume that risk themselves,” said Gabriel McCarthy, Paulson’s attorney. “Any pedestrian under any circumstances is going to be watching that vehicle (approaching them).”

Bandy argued the light in the area would have made Duskey look “like a bucket of black paint on a white sheet” and reminded the jury Paulson never braked or swerved to avoid her.

McCarthy felt that was a poor comparison, said the lights in the area would’ve been set to illuminate the ground, and added Duskey would’ve moved against a dark background.

“That (comparison) is inaccurate, that’s a reach, that’s an exaggeration, that’s not supported by the evidence, and it should tell you something that they have to reach,” McCarthy said.

Tommy Simmons is the Ada County public safety reporter for the Idaho Press. Follow him on Twitter @tsimmonsipt

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