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Woman’s Conviction Overturned After Accident is Linked to GM Recall

Destiny Baker2 years ago

A Van Zandt County Judge ruled Monday that Texas resident Candice Anderson had been wrongfully convicted for a fatal car crash that claimed the life of her fiancé, Gene Erickson, overturning a guilty plea entered by Anderson nearly a decade ago.

The decision to overturn Anderson’s conviction comes just after the release of new evidence linking the accident to a faulty ignition switch recalled by General Motors earlier this year.

Regulators Link Erickson’s Death to Recalled Ignition Switch

According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Erickson was killed in Van Zandt County, Texas on November 15, 2004 after Anderson lost control of her 2004 Saturn Ion and hit a tree.

Investigations found trace amounts of Xanax in Anderson’s system, and Anderson pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide following an indictment by a grand jury. Anderson received $2,500 in fines and was sentenced to five years of probation for the offense.

It was not until June, 2014 that Anderson learned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had linked Erickson’s death to a massive recall covering millions of General Motors vehicles.

The recall noted that multiple GM models, including the 2004 Saturn Ion, had been equipped with a faulty ignition switch that could shift out of the run position and into the off or accessory positions, even when the vehicles were in motion. NHTSA went on to report that such an event would cut engine power, resulting in the loss of power steering, power brakes, and airbag functionality.

GM Acknowledges Defect “Caused or Contributed” to Erickson’s Death

“GM allowed the victim to be convicted. Now, on the day of the hearing to prove it was GM and not Candice, GM admits what it has known since 2004.” – Anderson’s attorney Bob Hilliard as published by the Wall Street Journal

Only a few hours before Monday’s hearing, Anderson’s attorney, Bob Hilliard, received an email from GM that Anderson’s collision was one in which “the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the front airbag non-deployment.”

Though GM had informed NHTSA last year that Erickson’s death was one of 13 fatalities attributed to the faulty ignition switch, the information was never released to the public or Ms. Anderson. The information continued to be withheld even after Senator Richard Blumenthal urged GM CEO Mary Barra to back a pardon for Anderson, stating that the Justice Department could hold GM accountable for failing to make the defect known when Anderson was prosecuted.

Anderson has stated that she does not plan to pursue further legal action agaisnt GM and has revealed that she will likely accept a settlement from GM's victims' compensation fund. The fund has received 225 death claims since its opening in August.

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