“Melrose Place” Manslaughter Trial Juror: “Sad end to a tragic story”

Actress Amy Locane-Bovenizer, best known for her “Melrose Place” role, has been accused of being intoxicated at the time of two crashes, one deadly, and was facing up to 30 years in prison.

Locane-Bovenizer was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident that led to a chase by the woman involved in that crash. That chase led to the fatal crash that killed 60-year-old Helene Seeman and critically injured her husband, Fred. According to another NJ.com report, the defense argued that the 40-year-old actress was caught in a “perfect storm” that included being chased by another woman who, said prosecutors, took the law into her own hands.

As we reported last year, it is alleged that just prior to the fatal June 27, 2010 accident, Locane-Bovenizer, of Hopewell, New Jersey, was being pursued by the driver of a vehicle she had rear-ended at the intersection of Cherry Valley Road and Route 206 in Princeton Township. Locane-Bovenizer’s 2007 Chevy Tahoe hit Fred and Helene Seeman’s vehicle as they were pulling into their driveway on Cherry Hill Road in Montgomery Township. Helene Seeman, 60, was pronounced dead at the scene; her husband was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick after sustaining 10 broken ribs.

Locane-Bovenizer tested with a .23 blood-alcohol, nearly three times the legal limit of .08, said NJ.com earlier this week. The level continually rose through the night, according to Somerset County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Murphy, who argued that the case centered on alcohol and a woman who consumed drinks throughout the day and then got behind the wheel of her car. “A reasonable person, I submit to you, would not have engaged in this kind of conduct,” Murphy told jurors in Superior Court in Somerville, said NJ.com.

It seems the defense’s take on that night, that it was a combination of the woman leading a miles-long chase scene and the slow speed at which the Seeman’s car was turning, that led, in part, to the deadly accident, said NJ.com. The defense’s argument helped the actress’s case and she avoided the most serious charge of aggravated manslaughter. The jury did convict Locane-Bovenizer on the lesser charges of assault by auto and vehicular homicide.

The split verdict meant that the jury felt that the fatal crash was not entirely the fault of the actress. And, while the jury did agree with prosecutors on the lesser charges, juror Chris Yan told NJ.com that the panel did not see how the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Locane-Bovenizer showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Without that, the jury was not able to convict the actress on the charge of aggravated manslaughter, NJ.com explained.

“It’s just a tragic event,” Yen told NJ.com. “There were no winners. It’s a sad end to a tragic story.” Locane-Bovenizer now faces five to 10 years prison time on the vehicular homicide charge and three-to-five for the charge of assault by auto. The terms could be consecutive and sentencing is scheduled for March 1. The actress also faces penalties for nine motor vehicle summonses from Montgomery and Princeton townships, including DWI and fleeing the scene of an accident, which will be decided at a later date.

Now that the criminal trial has been resolved, the civil suit filed by Fred Seeman against Locane-Bovenizer and her husband can proceed in federal court, said NJ.com. That lawsuit had been on hold pending completion of the criminal proceedings. Fred Seeman is being represented in his civil suit against Locane-Bovenizer by the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP.

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