Prosecutors Upgrade Vehicular Manslaughter Charge To Second Degree Murder After Discovering Tweet In Which Teen Boasts About Speeding.

According to local authorities, an 18-year-old California man, Cody Hall, initially accused of vehicular manslaughter in connection with a crash that killed a bicyclist in Pleasanton, CA, was charged on August 14, 2013 with second degree murder, in part because he had boasted about speeding on Twitter.

Cody Hall of Pleasanton is now being held without bail in the death of Diana Hersevoort, 58, of Dublin, CA who was struck along with her husband on June 9, 2013 while riding their bikes north on Foothill Road, a busy thoroughfare south of Golden Eagle Way in Pleasanton, CA.  According to police, Hall was driving north in a 2004 Dodge Neon and was traveling 83 mph in a 40-mph zone as he passed a vehicle at about 1 pm on June 9. He lost control and collided with the couple, killing Hersevoort and injuring her husband, Johannes Hersevoort, 57. For causing Diana Hersevoort’s wrongful death and Johannes Hersevoort’s personal injuries, Hall was charged with vehicular manslaughter, gross negligence, and reckless driving causing a serious injury. He was then released on $100,000 bail.

On August 14, 2013, however, prosecutors discovered tweets Hall made on Twitter months before he fatally struck the 58-year old woman telling his 121 followers to join him on a “death ride” while retweeting the phrase “Drive fast live young.” These tweets prompted prosecutors to upgrade the vehicular manslaughter charge to second-degree murder and hold Hall without bail.

In order to convict Hall on the upgraded second degree murder charge, prosecutors must show “implied malice” — or that Hall “engaged in an intentional, unlawful act done with conscious disregard for the risk to human life.”

According to news reports, prosecutors around the United States have more frequently been pursuing murder convictions in cases where social media, such as Twitter or YouTube, has been used to convey boastful or ill-advised remarks in relation to potential crimes.

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