Trial set for dive boat captain in California’s worst modern maritime disaster
Authorities in the Pacific Northwest hope to hold the trial of the last surviving crew member of the vessel that sank in fog-shrouded waters off Washington state’s coast back in 2009.
After seven years, more than 200 people were killed when the boat carrying 20 crew members sank in waters off of Olympia, Washington, on March 8, 2009.
The captain, the chief engineer and two crewmembers took the stand Wednesday as the trial of Matthew Allen Luttrell, who is being held in custody on murder and manslaughter charges, resumed for another day in his manslaughter trial. Luttrell was being held on $1 million bail.
Luttrell’s attorneys rested their case Monday, while prosecutors put on evidence of a toxic substance found aboard the ship. Luttrell’s defense argued that he could not have been intoxicated because the liquid in which he was served beer and whiskey was served in a glass with a straw.
Washington state Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey D. McKay took the bench Wednesday and heard closing arguments from both sides.
The court also issued a protective order to keep details about Luttrell’s arrest and his possible release from the public. The trial is expected to continue for several more weeks.
“This is a trial of a man who was not only the captain of the vessel that sank, but who was also the last remaining crewmember, and his trial is going to continue for several weeks,” said one attorney for the prosecution. “We’ll prove that he (Luttrell) was responsible for everything that happened to the boat, the lives of the people aboard.”
Luttrell was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by the Washington State Supreme Court in March 2010. The ruling overturned a jury’s verdict of involuntary manslaughter, which requires a greater degree of intent to kill.
McKay took over the trial after the Washington Supreme Court vacated the involuntary manslaughter conviction because of testimony he considered unbalanced and prejudicial, and ordered a new trial.
The trial began Wednesday with the prosecution putting on its case against Luttrell, who faces