Man convicted in fatal wreck says dash cam video will set him free

A man convicted in a fatal DUI crash is pushing for a new trial, arguing new evidence will prove his innocence. 

Drew Ryland’s attorney, Keith O’Connor, told the Missouri Court of Appeals Tuesday he was wrongfully convicted. Ryland’s family is hoping for a new trial.

“My son was not driving that truck that evening that caused the death of Michael Hernandez,” Ryland’s mother Angela Wolgamott said.

A jury found Ryland guilty in a head-on collision that killed Michael Hernandez in September 2014.

 

 

Police said Ryland was driving drunk, going 81 miles per hour before the wreck at 31st and Grand.

Wolgamott says her son’s first attorney didn’t let the family see key evidence.

“It wasn’t until sentencing when I saw the dash cam video for the second time that I noticed that there was a face in the mirror,” Wolgamott said.

That image is what O’Connor is depending on.

O’Connor insists that a reflection in the driver’s side mirror shown in police dash cam video from that night is not Ryland, but that another person in the SUV was the driver.

O’Connor argued new technology allowed the defense to enhance the image, and the facial features don’t match Ryland. He says the person driving pinned it on Ryland to avoid a fourth DUI.

 

 

The prosecutor argued to the Court that the image doesn't rule Ryland out and doesn't outweigh other evidence pointing to him.

Witnesses say Ryland and two others had just come from Westport. Wolgamott acknowledges everyone in Ryland’s Chevy Suburban was drunk.

Hernandez’s family is confident the jury got it right the first time.

“This dude did it. He decided to drive drunk. He decided to get behind the wheel. He’s trying to be a coward and blame it on someone else,” Hernandez’s aunt, Carmela White, said after the hearing.

White and Hernandez’s mother, Paulette Peasley, were visibly upset going in and out of the courtroom. They say their loss is still a daily struggle. 

Hernandez left behind five children. Peasley is now helping to take care of them.

“It’s sad. It’s sad not seeing him, not hearing him. And touching him. On the holidays especially. His birthday, Mother’s Day. He’s not there to give my sister a hug and say ‘I love you,’” White said in tears.

If the Court of Appeals doesn't agree with the defense, Ryland will continue to serve out his 20-year sentence.

Print this article Back to Top