A Florida man who pleaded guilty to DUL manslaughter in August has changed his mind and now believes the accident was the fault of the deceased victims.
David Belniak, 38, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for running into a car containing four people at a red light on Christmas Day 2007.
UPI.com reports that Belniak, was driving between 75 and 85 mph when he crashed his pickup truck into the back of the Chevrolet Tahoe being driven by Ray McWilliams, who had stopped for a red light, according to police reports. According to Mail Online, police said Belniak’s blood-alcohol level registered .045 - and he tested positive for cocaine and Xanax.
Linda McWilliams, 66, Denise Bassi, 50, and Gerard Bassi, 51, all died in the collision. Ray McWilliams survived, but died last March.
But in December, Belniak's attorney filed a suit against the driver who had been killed, and alleged that the Florida Highway Patrol's investigation of the case was a "government sanctioned assassination against one individual."
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the lawsuit wants the surviving relatives to pay Belniak, 38, for his "pain and suffering … mental anguish … loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life" and the medical bills he got from the crash. Belniak now alleges in his suit that McWilliams abruptly changed lanes, which made it impossible for Belniak to avoid a crash.
Surviving relatives called Belniak’s lawsuit “ridiculous.” Their lawyer, Maureen Deskins, says the suit is gut-wrenching for them.
Debra Tuomey, Belniak’s lawyer and sister, says Belniak only pleaded guilty in the criminal case to avoid the possibility of life in prison. The ABA Journal reports that she hopes to have Belniak’s suit heard at the same time that a civil suit against him, by the victims' family, is scheduled to go to trial in April. That way, both sides of the story are heard.
In 1994, Belniak hit and killed a pedestrian in Florida who later died, but was not charged.
His lawsuit is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.