Kate Regan's tragic hit and run - Top story of 2010
The name Kate Regan has become synonymous with tragedy and controversy in New Canaan this year.
When New Canaan Police announced that they had the make and model of the vehicle involved in an August hit and run, residents thought an arrest wasn't far behind.
Much to their dismay, charges weren't filed until early November.
Police arrested Kate Regan, 32, of Michigan Road on Nov. 3 in connection with the death of Krishna Jayaraman, who was struck and subsequently killed while getting his mail on Aug. 18.
"We are very pleased with the swiftness of the process," New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc said. She believes the chief's letter to the State Crime Lab to expedite the investigation considerably helped in bringing about results much faster than they expected.
"It is great that it happened sooner because we knew there was a lot of interest in this case from the community," she added.
Residents were upset that an arrest had not been made to bring justice for the family. Immediately, rumors were cast about a cover-up by the New Canaan Police.
"This was never a cover up," Sgt. Carol Ogrinc said before the arrest was made. "We are just trying to make sure everything is exact. There could be a lot of different charges here and we need to make sure we do this right."
The accident itself took place more than four months ago, when, at 4:41 p.m. on Aug. 18, New Canaan police found Mr. Jayaraman on the side of the road with serious injuries. After being transported to Norwalk hospital, it was reported that Mr. Jayaraman died of his injuries at Norwalk Hospital at around 6:15 p.m.
Shortly after the incident, officers determined the vehicle that struck Mr. Jayaraman was a 2008 Infiniti QX56 being driven by a female New Canaan resident. Once forensic testing had been conducted on the vehicle and evidence recovered, that same evidence was sent to the State Crime Laboratory.
The official police report on the incident notes that three DNA samples from the mirror assembly matched with Mr. Jayaraman. The lab results are so precise that the report says there is a one in 7 billion chance that the DNA could be linked to anyone else.
According to the affidavit, Regan headed to a wedding in Albany immediately after the accident.
The report states Regan admitted she was not aware of hitting anyone except "possibly" a mailbox as she was "changing a DVD and veered over" for her 19-month-old child in the backseat. Regan, who is currently six months pregnant, initially changed her story about the damage to her mirror, according to the report.
Before her claim about the mailbox, the affidavit states she told the police and her husband she believed someone had damaged her mirror in a parking lot in New Canaan. According to the affidavit, when her husband, Mike Regan, asked her why she lied about someone damaging the mirror, she said that she was afraid he would be furious about her hitting a mailbox.
Shortly after the accident, Regan went to a gas station to inquire about repairing the damage on her vehicle. Gas station attendants who spoke to Regan said she seemed "calm and not nervous or agitated."
The document also said her husband fully cooperated with the investigation. He stated that his wife was "extremely distraught with the realization that she may have been involved in a serious accident" in the affidavit.
As reported earlier, police charged Regan with evading responsibility resulting in physical injury or death and negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. Regan was released on $10,000 bond and had her case continued till Jan 4.
With the court process under way, Professor Steven B. Duke of Yale Law School, who teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence and drug policy, shed some light on what these charges could mean for Regan.
"Negligent homicide with a motor vehicle has authorized fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for not more than six months," he said about the first charge. "It is, therefore, a misdemeanor."
The second charge of evading responsibility resulting in death is, interestingly enough, the more serious charge even though the words "negligent homicide" sounds much more severe.
Duke explained that most judges would regard the idea of leaving someone seriously injured on a street as a result of your actions "as more culpable than a death resulting from negligent driving," Duke said. "This would be true regardless of which offense carries a more serious classification."
After some research of the statutes, Duke found that the evading responsibility charge does indeed carry a more serious classification.
"One who is knowingly involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death and evades responsibility (i.e. not stopping or helping, etc) commits a felony with an authorized fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to l0 years," he said.
Duke explained that under those statutes, both fines and imprisonment can be imposed. Furthermore, while the maximum imprisonment is 10 years, the minimum is one year.
"On the [evading responsibility charge], I believe that the prosecution should bear the burden of proving not only that the accused was involved in an automobile accident that caused serious bodily injury or death, but that she knew, before she left the scene, that she had been involved in an accident that seriously injured another human being," Duke said about the case. "This might be very hard to prove."