Police say a man admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana before he struck and killed a pedestrian in Vancouver, Wash., in Dec. 2012.
While authorities originally lacked evidence to pursue charges against Scotty Rowles, 48, the situation has now changed following toxicology results and an additional exploration of the case.
Rowles pleaded not guilty after he was formally charged with one count of vehicular homicide on Tuesday, KPTV-TV reported.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said that authorities needed to explore whether Rowles' actions played a large role in the victim's death before charges could be filed, according to The Columbian.
The crash unfolded on Dec. 17, 2012, when police found the 62-year-old victim, Donald Collins, laying on the road; he died not long after the accident. Rowles was reportedly emotional, telling police that Collins had walked from the median into his lane.
While it initially seemed as though the victim was at fault, the fact that Rowles was under the influence of marijuana at the time technically placed the blame on him. The level of THC in his blood at the time was 7.2 nanograms per milliliter; the legal limit in the state is 5 nanograms per milliliter.
Here's a KPTV-TV report from last year with more:
According to officers, Rowles admitted to smoking marijuana 60 to 90 minutes before the accident. While the toxicology results came back just weeks after the accident, his arraignment didn't unfold until this week.
It is unclear what role, if any, marijuana played in the accident, but the THC level in Rowles' blood is at the center of the case. The defendant's attorney Nick Wood said in court Tuesday that Collins had alcohol in his system, though it is unclear what role this might have played in the incident.
KOIN-TV reported that there has been an increase in THC showing up in drivers' blood over the past year. While it was found in 18 percent if drivers who were tested last year, positive tests are now up to 27 percent.
Marijuana was officially legalized in Washington just days before the tragic accident.
Featured image via Shutterstock.com
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