More than four years after being involved in a crash that fatally injured his passenger, a Grinnell man pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of vehicular homicide, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Lee Allen Breuer, 53, initially faced a Class B felony-level vehicular homicide charge as the result of an automobile crash Nov. 9, 2008, near Oakland Acres. Then-Jasper County deputy sheriff Lt. Denny Stevenson came upon the scene in the 13000 block of Highway 6 East at 1:24 a.m. that morning and discovered Breuer, who had been driving, attempting to assist his passenger, 48-year-old Ceann Viola Bailey of Grinnell, out of the overturned vehicle.
According to court documents, as Stevenson rendered assistance, he detected an odor of alcohol coming from Breuer, who he further observed was unsteady on his feet. Stevenson also observed a number of beer cans lying in and around the car.
Breuer and Bailey both were transported to Grinnell Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, Jasper County sheriff’s deputy Aaron Groves asked Breuer to provide a breath test, but was refused, so he read Breuer the implied consent advisory required by law.
Breuer further refused to provide blood or urine test samples. Stevenson then met with a magistrate judge in Newton and obtained a warrant authorizing withdrawal of a blood specimen from Breuer.
Bailey later was transferred to University Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City, where she died five days later as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.
As a result of the blood sample, which showed a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.171 percent — more than double the legal limit — the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office filed the charges against Breuer in December of 2008. Breuer’s attorneys then attempted to have the blood test results suppressed because the search warrant authorizing medical personnel to draw his blood was not physically present at the time the blood was extracted.
Breuer’s attorneys alleged his constitutional rights were violated as a result. In January of this year, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the extraction of blood was constitutional and no rights had been violated. That ruling affirmed earlier rulings by both the district court and Iowa Court of Appeals.
Breuer’s sentencing date was set for Jan. 28.
Bob Eschliman can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 423 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.