Police Car with emergency lights onTruck driver Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, has been charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto in a crash that occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday. Mr. Roper’s big rig truck struck a Mercedes limousine, killing comedian James McNair, and severely injuring passengers, including actor Tracy Morgan. The limo was returning from a comedy show held in Delaware.

Mr. Roper allegedly had gone without sleep, prior to the crash, for over 24 hours. His employer, Wal-Mart, disputes that accusation in their statement released Monday:

“With regards to news reports that suggest Mr. Roper was working for 24 hours, it is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours of service regulations. The details are the subject of the ongoing investigation and we are cooperating fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The investigation is ongoing and unfortunately we can’t comment further on the specifics. Federal law requires drivers to work no more than 14 hours for any shift and 11 hours of driving.”

Kevin Roper has been placed on administrative leave.

Mr. Roper has been released on $50,000 bail, and has been charged with four counts of assault by auto and one count of vehicular homicide (death by auto). An investigation is currently underway by the NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board. If it is determined that Mr. Roper is indeed responsible for the crash, Wal-Mart has pledged to take full responsibility.


In order to prove vehicular homicide, it must first be shown that the defendant caused the crash. It must also be proved that the crash resulted in death, and that the victim’s death was foreseeable. The ‘recklessness’ element of death by auto is a slightly more objective standard – with prosecution having to prove that the defendant created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of bodily injury, and then consciously disregarded said risk.

The prosecution must prove reckless behavior beyond a reasonable doubt for both the assault charges, and the death by auto charge. Any statements or admissions made by Mr. Roper to the police about ‘falling asleep at the wheel’ could have a severe impact on his prosecution, potentially conceding a major aspect of the state’s case.

Do not leave yourself unprotected during the criminal process. It is imperative that you do not speak with law enforcement officials without first consulting with one of our expert murder defense attorneys. Without the right lawyer by your side, you risk waiving crucial rights and protections. Most importantly you risk losing your freedom, even if you’re innocent.


At Jack Venturi Law, our New Jersey defense attorneys will vigorously defend you against vehicular homicide charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with murder, or assault, call Jack Venturi Law at 732-247-3340 today. You can also fill out our online intake form.

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