Tag Archive: alcohol related drunk driving

Billy Lane to Face 9 years in Jail as Part of Plea Bargain Deal

Billy Lane 2009 *** August 18, 2009 Update.

Billy Lane got 6 years in prison and probation after he gets out. Look for a new article on the subject soon.

*** June 17, 2009 Update.

Billy Lane’s plea of guilty to vehicular homicide was accepted by the Court last week. He will remain free until his next Court appearance on August 14, 2009, when he will be sentenced. It is said that he will probably avoid prison. Part of the plea deal mandates a lifetime suspension of his drivers license in Florida, however he could petition the Florida department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a hardship licence.

He faced up to 15 years in prison, however according to published reports his plea deal mitigates his maximum possible sentence to 9 years. He may also be sentenced to house arrest or probation.

In June 2002, motorcycle builder Billy Lane of Melbourne Beach, Florida was on top of the world. He sold custom-built motorcycles at $30,000 to $40,000 a piece. He gained fame and celebrity status through various reality TV shows. He was subsequently was invited as a featured guest to motorcycle shows and festivals all over the United States and beyond.

Now Billy Lane who is 39 years old, is facing up to nine years in prison on a single felony charge of vehicular homicide in connection with a Labor Day 2006 car crash that left a Gerry Morelock, a Melbourne Beach, Florida man, a motorcyclist, dead.

After several delays, Lane is expected in court Tuesday morning to change his not guilty plea to “no contest.” He would then be sentenced on Aug. 14, 2009, at 9:00am.

“We did get the written plea agreement in,” defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger told several newspapers. “Based on my review of it, I don’t anticipate any problems. I anticipate we are good to go Tuesday.”

Lane was charged two years ago with one count of DUI manslaughter in connection with the 2006 traffic accident in which Gerry Morelock, 56, died.

Police said Lane’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he crossed a double yellow line to pass slow traffic on State Road A1A south of Melbourne Beach, Florida. He crashed his Dodge pickup head on into Morelock’s small Yamaha motorcycle on Sept. 4, 2006, police said.

In light of ongoing legal discussions over the permissibility of blood evidence at trial, prosecutors in late December added an alternative charge of vehicular homicide, which requires the state to prove that Lane was driving recklessly but does not include the drug or alcohol element needed to prove DUI manslaughter.

Both charges are second-degree felonies in the State of Florida, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Billy Lane 2006But under the terms of the plea deal, Eisenmenger said prosecutors will drop the DUI manslaughter charge. Instead, they will seek a nine-year prison term for the vehicular homicide charge, a term Lane is eligible for under state sentencing guidelines when his prior criminal record is considered.

Eisenmenger will seek a sentence that calls for no time in prison. “We believe there are mitigating factors in this case. . . . And we’re going to be presenting those to the court at sentencing,” he said.

Since the crash, Lane’s public persona has suffered, but he still seems to be popular at biker and motorcycle events.

A message on his motorcycle shop’s Web site says the shop is closed to the public, though merchandise is available for purchase online. Court records indicate that Lane’s Melbourne Beach, Florida home is going through foreclosure.

Lane reached a confidential out-of-court settlement on a wrongful death suit filed by Morelock’s family. Also, records show that Erin Derrick, a 22-year-old woman who was in the car with Lane at the time of the crash, is suing him for injuries she says have rendered her unable to work.

If Billy Lane does change his plea to no contest tomorrow, I will comment more on this issue at that time. Everyone who reads the Biker Law Blog knows how I feel about people who kill bikers and motorcyclist.

California Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., 2009

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The Dodge Answer to the Morelock Family Lawsuit in the Billy Lane Case!

Billy Lane

Mike Odom went to great lengths and a 3 hour ride to get a copy of the Dodge Answer to the Morelock Family Negligent Entrustment Case, related to the Billy Lane case.

You can see the full answer posted here on Mike Odom’s Blog.

I cannot comment on Florida law because I am not licensed to practice law in Florida, (I am licensed in California and before the United States Court Central District (Federal Court) but I can say this about the answer; I would expect the exact same kind of Answer to be filed in California!

In California, you are allowed to do a general denial to an unverified complaint. (Unverified means a complaint that is not signed under penalty of perjury). So if this was a California answer it would just be a general denial.

With respect to affirmative defenses; the general rule for all lawyers defending a case it to assert every and all potential affirmative defenses in your answer, because if you don’t you could lose them.

Basically what I am getting at is that the Answer that you see filed by Dodge in its present form looks like a standard answer that any competent lawyer would file on behalf of their client. With respect to litigation; after discovery is conducted it could very well be that the decedent’s (Morelock) family could do a motion for summary judgment or for a judgment on the pleadings with respect to certain or all of the affirmative defenses.

We will see how it all pans out. There very well could be a settlement of the case before or during trial.

I would expect Dodge to cross-complain against Billy Lane for equitable indemnity, (reimbursement) in this case. In California they would have to file a cross-complaint at the time their answer is filed. I do not know for sure if Dodge cross-complained against Billy Lane or not. Maybe Mike or others could chime in on this issue in the comments section.

I handle these types of cases in my own practice. This case could take up to two years or more to get through the legal system. We will see.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. © 2006

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More on the Billy Lane Case.

Billy LaneI recently wrote an article about the Billy Lane drunk driving manslaughter case. You can find that article by clicking here now. Since I wrote that article, much more information has become available about the case.

I was contacted by a gentleman and fellow biker named Michael Odom, who has written an extensive article about the Billy Lane case in his Blog. His article not only goes into the details of the accident, it also goes into the details of the case. You can check out Michael’s article by clicking here now.

I highly recommend that you read the article written by Michael Odom. His article provides much more technical detail than any other article I have read regarding this case to date.

I again express my sincere condolences to the family of the biker who was killed in this accident Gerald V. Morelock.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, ESQ. , copyright 2006

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Billy Lane, a Tragedy.

Billy LaneMany of you probably already know that Custom Motorcycle Builder Billy Lane was involved in a motorcycle accident which claimed the life of Gerry V. Morelock, a 56 year old man who was just out riding his “Street Legal” Yamaha Scooter. It has been alleged that Billy Lane, while driving his custom-painted black Dodge Ram pickup on a suspended license, crossed over a double yellow line and slammmed head-on into Morelock who was just out for a ride, killing him instantly.

After toxicology reports came back showing the Billy Lane had a B.A.C. (blood alocohol content) of 0.192, more than twice the legal limit in Florida, Billy Lane was arrested and accused of drunk driving manslaughter in the death of the other biker. If convicted Billy Lane faces 15 years in prison.

You may wonder why I titled this editorial “Billy Lane, a Tragedy,” and not “Gerry V. Morelock” a tragedy.” The reason I titiled the editorial the way I did is because no one knows who Gerry V. Morelock is, whereas most bikers know who Billy Lane is.

By all accounts Gerry V. Morelock was a great guy, with a great family, and was just out for a ride on his Yamaha Scooter. He did not deserve to die the way he did. His death is a tragedy.

As a lawyer, I am not going to write an editorial about Billy Lane’s guilt. He is innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law. If he is found guilty then all bet’s are off.

The irony of this story is that one biker killed another biker. I have read in places that Gerry V. Morelock was only riding a Street Legal Scooter, so that does not qualify him as a Biker; WRONG. He was riding on two wheels just like the rest of us. He did not deserve to die that day, he did nothing wrong. Gerry V. Morelock is and was a Biker and deserves the respect and sympathy of the rest of the Biker Community.

Billy Lane was a cager the day he caused the death of Gerry V. Morelock. He was a cager who is accused of drunk driving manslaughter, but also driving with a suspended license and other crimes.

We will have to wait for the Court System to pass judgment on Billy Lane. We all know how the biker community will treat Billy Lane, even if he is not found guilty. We do not like people who kill our own, even if he is one of our own.

Gerry V. MorelockSo what is the editorial really about? It is about, Gerry V. Morelock, a Tragedy. He was a good and decent man, who was cut down due to no fault of his own, by a negligent cager who also happened to be a biker. He did not even have a chance.

The next time one of you wants to get drunk and put the keys into your car or motorcycle remember one thing; is your life really worth it? Is the life of another really worth it? Would not it be better to take a cab, get a ride from a friend, or even sleeping it off on the sidewalk be better than potentially killing another, and losing your own life and career over it?

Being a Biker Lawyer I get regular reports of Motorcycle Accidents and Motorcycle related injuires and deaths from all over the country. If just makes me sick to my stomach. Most people do not realize the carnage that is occuring to Bikers and Motorcyclist from all over country on a daily basis. It is not pretty. If you are a biker or a non biker; the next time you are riding in your cage, why don’t you take a couple of seconds and remember, the guy or gal on that motorcycle is a human being just like you.

Go in peace Gerry V. Morelock, and may god rest your soul. We in the biker community remember you. Although you were riding a Yamaha Scooter, you were a true biker!

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. , Copyright 2006

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