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Teen enters not guilty plea in Memphis man's death

Posted: May 31, 2011 2:55 PM CDTUpdated: May 31, 2011 2:55 PM CDT

William Marshall
William Marshall
Samer Sakaan
Samer Sakaan

(WMC-TV) - An 18-year-old charged with killing a Memphis man standing in his own driveway faced a judge Tuesday morning.

Samer Sakaan was told during his arraignment that he could face between three and 15 years in prison, if convicted.

Defense attorney Claiborne Ferguson entered a non guilty plea for Sakaan, saying his client is innocent of the charges.

"We can't talk about what he's saying, but we think the facts and evidence as they come out will indicate that he's not guilty of these charges," Ferguson said.

According to investigators, Sakaan's car hit neighbor William Marshall as Marshall was going to his mailbox. Officers said Sakaan was driving on Walnut Bend Road when he tried to pass another car, but clipped the front of that car and ran into Marshall.

Sakaan told investigators that, before the crash, he had stayed up to 5:00 a.m. partying at Senses Night Club. The 18-year old said he had not been drinking, but police charged him with DUI and Vehicular Homicide.

"At 18 and being responsible for the death of somebody, it's really hard on anybody, and especially my client," Ferguson said.

Ferguson said his client is heartbroken about what happened to Marshall.

"He obviously understands the gravity of the situation and the fact that there is going to be a father than never goes back home," he said.

William Marshall, 36, was father of two young sons whose their mother is dying of cancer.

Sakaan is currently out on bond, and will appear in court again in late June.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.



Senator Bower's is on her way to a not-guilty!!!  Read on . . .



Bowers wasn't drunk, tests show


Commercial Appeal - Local Section

By Lawrence Buser
October 19, 2006

Lab results show that former state senator Kathryn Bowers had no alcohol in her system when she was charged last month with driving under the influence after a traffic collision.


The late-afternoon wreck occurred Aug. 31 on Interstate 240 near Hollywood when her vehicle swerved across three lanes of traffic and side-swiped a UPS double-trailer truck, according to a police report.


Paramedics advised police to hurry to the scene because she was trying to leave, the report said.


Bowers, 63, was charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving and failure to maintain control. A police report says she was lethargic and was slow to answer questions.


She said she had had no alcohol, but told police she had taken the sleep-aid Ambien and six other medications she could not name.

Bowers, who is under federal indictment for bribery in the Tennessee Waltz investigation, had resigned from the Senate three days earlier, citing health problems.


Defense attorney Claiborne Ferguson said Wednesday the alcohol results from her blood toxicology tests were negative, but that results of other drug tests have not been completed by the TBI lab.


Her next court date is Dec. 7.


. . .and . . .



Bowers' attorney says tox report shows no alcohol


Oct 18, 2006 03:55 PM CDT


Former Tennessee State Senator Kathryn Bowers received good news during a hearing Wednesday in the case against her involving a car crash last August.


Bowers, who did not appear in court, faces charges of impaired driving for an accident in August where she allegedly swiped a UPS truck while driving on Interstate 240. Wednesday, Attorney Claiborne Ferguson showed a judge paperwork that said there was no alcohol in Bower's blood at the time of the incident. The crash led to a DUI for the former State Senator.


"We were expecting that, but it's nice to see that our contentions that she was not under the influence of alcohol have proven to be true," Ferguson said.


Bowers has contended that she was on newly prescribed medication the day of the accident, and that it may have affected her blood sugar and blood pressure. Her attorney is still waiting on a final lab report for that defense.


"What it appears from the paramedic report is there were some problems with her blood sugar and her blood pressure," Ferguson said.


Just days after the crash, and while awaiting trial on charges stemming from Operation Tennessee Waltz, Bowers stepped down from the Tennessee State Senate, citing health reasons.


"Ms. Bowers is doing very well," Ferguson said. "She seems to be taking all of this in stride. She knows this is a fight she's willing to fight."


Bowers' case is set to be heard again December 7th, when one of several things could happen: The judge could move it forward, he could dismiss it, or he could continue it if her attorneys need more time.

Transcript from the WMC TV5 Report:




If I handle the hard cases, I can handle yours! Read on . . .


6th DUI charge may be 1 too many

By Lawrence Buser
April 20, 2006

Client's name withheld at his request - CHF


[Client] must be a familiar face around the Shelby County Jail by now. With five pending drunken driving arrests dating to October 2004 -- including two in one day -- he recently picked up No. 6. Yet his stays in jail are typically measured in hours rather than days, and he continues to drive. [Client] has not been convicted of anything at this point, but today state prosecutors will ask a judge to curb [Client's] driving habit by revoking or raising his many bonds and putting him behind bars.


"The defendant poses a real and substantial danger to himself and to this community as a whole," state DUI prosecutor Kirby May said in papers filed this week in Criminal Court. [Client], 42, has been arrested seven times, including once this month on a charge of passing bad checks. He also has been released seven times, and now has bonds totaling $8,750.

His attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, said there are some legal issues that could lessen [client's] guilt in some of the cases, but he acknowledges his client has some serious issues to address.


"[Client] is not a criminal, but he obviously has some problems that have gotten him into the criminal justice system," Ferguson said. "We're looking at the bigger picture, and we're hoping to work out a plan that will provide some form of punishment but that also addresses [Client's] health care needs."


[Client's] first arrest came on Oct. 28, 2004, when he was stopped around 8 p.m. at Summer and I-40 with an open bottle of Black Swan Chardonnay in his car and a white foam cup, according to the police report. [Client] registered .126 on a blood-alcohol test, the report said. Under Tennessee law, .08 can be considered proof of intoxication. On a field sobriety test during his third arrest in April of last year, he told an officer demonstrating a walk-and-turn procedure, "I can do that when I'm sober." He later registered a .149 BAC.


Last October, with five pending drunken driving cases, [Client] was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet that samples the wearer's perspiration and sends data to a monitoring agency checking for signs of alcohol consumption. On April 7, however, [Client] was arrested for allegedly passing a bad check at Kroger's and when he was jailed, the bracelet was removed. Under jail policy, the monitor is considered contraband and is to be returned to the monitoring agency.


[Client] was released on $250 bond, but before the monitoring agency got him fitted with another alcohol-detecting bracelet, [Client] was arrested last Saturday night and charged with his sixth DUI offense.

-- Lawrence Buser: 529-2385




Shameful DUIs


The Tribune-Democrat

The state of Tennessee has come up with a novel approach to reduce drunken driving.
It will try to shame those arrested for driving under the influence into changing their ways.
Up until now, first offenders have had to spend at least 48 hours in jail.
Now the legislature has come up with something entirely different.
First offenders will serve at least one day in jail, followed by three full days working to clean up along the state’s highways.
While they work, they will have to wear bright-orange vests emblazoned with the words: “I Am a Drunk Driver.”
It might work, at least with some offenders.





                             Tennessee: Scarlet Letter DUI Punishment Costs Millions

A Tennessee law designed to shame those convicted of drunk driving is not popular among some officials who now must manage the program.

The full cost of Tennessee's new punishment for drunk driving offenders is becoming more clear as local jurisdictions begin implementing the "shame" program. The law which took effect two weeks ago requires anyone convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol to wear an orange vest with "I am a drunk driver" stenciled in four-inch high letters while picking up litter on the roadside. This work must be completed in a series of three eight-hour shifts within thirty days of conviction. This penalty comes on top of a $1500 fine, a 24-hour stay in jail and a one-year license suspension for first offenders.

In making this program mandatory, lawmakers did not consider whether the public service requirement would actually serve the public. Local agencies estimate its cost statewide will top $2 million.

"The only concerns I have about it are practical ones in the cost and expense in carrying out the law," Bedford County General Sessions Court Judge Charles Rich told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. "It's a logistical nightmare."

In Blount County, prison inmates already pick up roadside litter at the rate of 100,000 pounds a year. Sheriff James Berrong says the mandatory DUI pickup crew can't be combined with the existing hardened criminal crews because of security concerns and estimates the county's share of the DUI program's cost at $230,805. Three new full-time supervisors will be required to monitor the DUI crews 12 hours a day, seven days a week at a cost of $191,000 in salary and benefits. A new van with a "DUI Litter Pickup Crew" paint scheme plus fuel and maintenance costs will add nearly $40,000 to the total.

"I'm not convinced this new program will provide very much benefit to the community," Berrong told the Maryville Daily Times. Blount county handles 500 DUI cases a year, eighty percent of which are first offenses.




New drunken driving campaign to target "buzzed" drivers too

06:17 PM EST on Tuesday, December 27, 2005



A new TV ad campaign is set to launch with a warning that "buzzed" drinkers shouldn't be driving either.




It's being called the biggest push against drunken driving in 20 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now putting up billboards and soon people will start seeing TV ads. This time of year drunken driving accidents historically increase. A lot of people are out at holiday parties and many of them drive home thinking they're not drunk, just buzzed.

Burning cars, people killed. These scenes have repeated on Charlotte area highways over the past two months. 

Police set up checkpoints and target drunk drivers. Officials with AAA said the number of deaths from drunken driving accidents is not going down. More than 17,000 people have been killed in the U.S. last year according to AAA.

"People are not getting or heading the message," said Tom Crosby with AAA of the Carolinas.

NTSA officials said the problem is many drunken drivers do not believe they are drunk. Specifically men between the ages of 21 and 34 like Dirk McCann.

“I think you can go out and have a couple of beers and still drive home,” McCann said.

They believe they are only buzzed. 

"Everything about drunken driving is they can't drive as well as their mind thinks they can," Crosby said.

These people are the target of the new campaign.

"It’s easy to tell if you've had way too many, but what if you've had just one too many?" the new ad said.

NTSA hopes a change in an old message will get more people to listen.

"What we found is that buzzed driving is something they think is ok, just getting a buzz on would be alright. And it's not it’s a deadly consequence,” said Marilena Amoni with NTSA.

The belief is the old “friends don't let friends drive drunk” campaign was good. But after 20 years it was time for a change.


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