Update: Dec. 18 – The jury decided the fate of a Marine Staff Sergeant from Camp Lejuene in just over an hour.
Joshua Aaron Block, 26, from Atascosa, Texas, was found not guilty after a jury unanimously decided to reject North Carolina’s case that he committed felony involuntary manslaughter and felony passing a stopped school bus. Block was facing 16 to 29 months in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge and 6 to 17 months for a second charge of of passing a stopped school bus resulting in death.
Block’s attorney was successful in his defense, which assigned blame on the bus driver for not to keep a proper lookout for traffic, according to JDNews.com.
Dec. 14 – A Camp Lejeune Marine staff sergeant accused of killing a Dixon High School student at his bus stop is expected to testify on Friday.
Joshua Aaron Block, 26, from Atascosa, Texas, is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and felony passing a stopped school bus. He is being represented by Jacksonville attorney Ed Bailey. Assistant District Attorney J.B. Askins is representing the state.
Block is accused of passing a stopped school bus and killing David Palacio on March 27.
Askins called his final witness to the stand Thursday morning before the noon recess.
Onslow County Schools Transportation Director Mike Henderson testified that on the day of the incident, Bus No. 104, the yellow school bus which David Palacio was walking towards with the intent of boarding, was functioning properly and had been “inspected on March 6 or 7.” Henderson said all buses in the school district fleet are required to receive a 400-point inspection every 28 days.
“Buses are given a ‘pre-trip’ check by the bus driver before the morning run and again before the afternoon run,” Henderson said.
The jury was a shown a video taken from the bus’s two onboard cameras moments before the crash. Because of the angle of the camera and that no camera was affixed to the extended stop arm, the images shown depicted the stairwell of the bus and front passenger seat and the area down the center aisle of the bus. No images of oncoming traffic were captured but images of brake lights from a passing vehicle moments after the student was struck appeared on the screen.
The video shown to the jury captured the audio where loud, repetitive statements of “Oh my God, Oh my God” was heard. Palacio’s parents, Jairo and Isabel sat holding one another and sobbed as Block sat by himself at the defense table looking straight ahead as his defense team gathered around the video monitor placed near the jury box.
Henderson testified that data collected by the school bus’s “black box” indicated the yellow amber and red lights were activated properly and the bus had come to a complete stop and the stop arm was extended when the incident occurred.
Askins told the jury that the amber lights were flashing “14 seconds prior to the stop.” Henderson testified that the amber lights are used “to warn traffic of an upcoming stop and to let drivers know to prepare for a stop.”
Block told officers a forgotten ID put him on Dawson Cabin Road around 6:40 a.m. March 27 when he allegedly ran over and killed the 16-year-old Dixon High School student.
The trial continues Friday beginning at 9:30 a.m. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Cy A. Grant is the presiding judge.
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