Judge denies motion, will keep blood test in fatal drunken driving case

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Nico Savidge
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

JANESVILLE—A blood test that showed a Brodhead man was drunk during a fatal September crash is admissible in court, a judge ruled Tuesday, denying a defense attorney's motion to suppress the evidence based on a recent Supreme Court decision.

An attorney for Sean M. Waterman, a 33-year-old Brodhead man charged with homicide by intoxicated driving and other offenses, said the test should be thrown out because it was taken without a warrant and without Waterman's consent.

That was common practice for police in September 2012, when authorities say Waterman drove drunk and crashed his car in the town of Spring Valley. Waterman's passenger, Douglas Axelson, was killed in the crash.

While Waterman recovered in a Rockford, Ill., hospital, a Rock County deputy told nurses to take a sample of his blood, authorities said. Hours after the crash, the test showed Waterman had a blood-alcohol concentration of .182, more than double the legal limit for drivers.

Seven months later, in April 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officers need to get a search warrant if they want to draw blood from a driver they suspect is intoxicated.

Waterman's attorney, Walter Isaacson, argued that because deputies made no effort to get a search warrant for his client's blood, the search was illegal and the evidence shouldn't be admitted if the case goes to trial. Isaacson cited the Supreme Court's decision in his argument.

Prosecutors disagreed, saying the deputies were following the law as it was interpreted then and that the Supreme Court's decision shouldn't be applied retroactively.

Judge Richard Werner agreed with the state and denied Isaacson's motion, writing that the deputy “acted in good faith based on the existing law.”

Waterman is next due in court for an appearance Nov. 13.

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