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BOZEMAN - A district judge ruled Wednesday that Belgrade police violated a Bozeman woman's constitutional rights while investigating a crash that killed a woman who was walking home from work.

Lora Whitmore was 30 years old when she was charged with negligent vehicular homicide after 56-year-old Chong Suk Everett was struck and killed Nov. 11, 2008, in Belgrade.

Judge John Brown agreed with defense attorneys Wednesday that Whitmore's blood was forcibly drawn twice after the crash and that she was questioned without an attorney despite her request for one.

The judge ruled that Whitmore's blood-alcohol level - nearly twice the legal limit 90 minutes after the 10:20 p.m. crash - would not be allowed in court because it was taken without her consent. Whitmore's attorneys had argued that their client passed every physical field sobriety test, so police had no evidence that she was under the influence of alcohol or that she caused the accident.

Belgrade police also questioned Whitmore after the crash, but failed to read her her rights until nearly 4 a.m. the next day. Brown ruled Wednesday that any statements she made before that time could not be used. The judge also said that anything she said to Belgrade Detective Dustin Lensing after she was informed of her rights would be barred in court because the detective continued to question her after she asked for an attorney.

The trial is scheduled to begin March 29.

 

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