The Sarasota DUI trial of Josh Hunter entered more new ground on Friday as a witness who refuses to testify in the DUI case was sentenced to 90 days in jail for contempt. James Hunter, the brother of the defendant, will get time served for the days he has already been sitting in jail and then will have to perform 50 hours of community service after completing the 90 days. He also received six months probation.
James Hunter said he could not face himself if he testified and helped land his brother in jail for a DUI penalty that could include 15 years in prison according to a story on Bradenton.com. His testimony is the only direct eyewitness account that can put Josh Hunter behind the wheel of the truck that was allegedly crashed by a drunk driver killing one of the passengers. Proving who was behind the wheel is a key element to proving guilt and with two of the three passengers unable to testify that Josh Hunter was driving, the state’s case relied on James Hunter testifying that his brother was the driver.
Despite the fact that prosecutor’s won’t have James Hunter’s testimony, they did get a favorable ruling from the judge in the case that allowed a Florida Highway Trooper to testify that one of the passengers told the trooper that Josh Hunter was the driver shortly after the accident took place. Hunter’s DUI lawyer objected to the testimony on grounds it was hearsay and should be inadmissible. If Hunter is convicted for DUI it will be an issue that comes up on appeal according to most experts.
The Hunter’s are being accused by the prosecutor of orchestrating this to help Josh Hunter avoid a DUI manslaughter sentence. The family, on the other hand, asked the judge not to give James Hunter more jail time as the family has already suffered enough.