A key prosecution witness in the Sarasota DUI Manslaughter trial of an ex-high school football coach is now in jail himself for contempt. James Hunter has been jailed by the same prosecutors he was supposed to help in the DUI manslaughter trial of his brother, Josh. James Hunter asserted his Fifth Amendment rights according to his Sarasota criminal defense attorney and now he is sitting in Sarasota County jail on a civil contempt of court charge.
James Hunter was supposed to take the stand and confirm that his brother was driving a truck that flipped over and killed one of the passengers. Prosecutors say that James Hunter is the only person who can testify that Josh Hunter was driving that night. James Hunter is evoking his right against self incrimination since he claims prosecutor’s threatened to charge him as an accessory after the fact for helping his brother avoid prosecution. At that point Josh Hunter’s brother was arrested as this Sarasota County DUI case continues to twist and turn.
Judge Donna Berlin ruled that James Hunter did not have the right to plead the Fifth. At that point he was handcuffed and taken to jail. According to the story on Bradenton.com, James Hunter will sit in jail until he changes his mind and testifies as he is being asked to do in a court order. Prosecutors have now subpoenaed more Hunter’s to see if any of them can testify that Josh was driving drunk in Sarasota the night of the accident. This time the prosecutor’s are attempting to get Josh Hunter’s parents to testify against their son.
Josh Hunter had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 the night of the crash. There were four people in the car. One died due to injuries from the crash, another has no memory of the incident and the other two are James and Josh Hunter. If the prosecution cannot get anyone to testify that Josh Hunter was driving, there is a good chance he will not be convicted of DUI manslaughter charges.