Man Accused of Drunk Driving in Deadly Crash, Not Guilty
The man accused of drunk driving in a deadly crash in Rutherford County is found not guilty.
It took the jury about 30 minutes to find C.J. Sappenfield not guilty on felony death by vehicle and reckless driving, in connection with the May 2013 accident. That's when Sappenfield's car ran off the road and flipped several times, killing his passenger, 19 year-old Matthew Lail.
Investigators say Sappenfield was driving on Bostic Sunshine Highway when his vehicle ran off the road and flipped several times. It was estimated that he was going about 80 miles per hour. Witness told News 13 they heard the car flip at least six times. The Highway Patrol says evidence showed the two were not wearing a seat belt, excessive speed and alcohol were factors in the accident.
News 13's cameras were not allowed in the courtroom Wednesday. But News 13's Megan Schiering was in the courtroom. She was there when the clerk read the jury's decision late Wednesday afternoon. Sappenfield's family and friends broke down in tears. News 13 tried to get a comment from Sappenfield and his attorney, but neither one wanted to comment.
During closing arguments the state tried to prove one last time that Sappenfield was behind the wheel of his car when it ran off the road and flipped several times on Bostic Sunshine Highway. District Attorney Brad Greenway told jurors that both men had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit in North Carolina. Sappenfield's attorney says the state failed to provide the concrete evidence that in fact his client was driving. In the end, the jury sided with him, freeing Sappenfield from all charges.
The only comment the D.A. provided News 13 after the verdict was handed down, was "the jury has spoken."