The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Montco jury convicts Berks man of DUI-related fatality in Upper Hanover


By Carl Hessler Jr., chessler@21st-centurymedia.com

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NORRISTOWN – A Berks County man has been convicted of charges he was driving his pickup truck while drunk, ultimately causing a crash that killed a motorcyclist in Upper Hanover.
Francis David Lynch, 42, of the first block of Mountain Scene Drive, Hereford, was convicted in Montgomery County Court of charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol, homicide by vehicle, and DUI in connection with the 11 p.m. April 4, 2012, collision in the 3000 block of Kutztown Road that claimed the life of motorcyclist Barry D. Good.
The jury reached its verdict after a four-day trial before Judge Carolyn T. Carluccio.
Carluccio deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Lynch, who potentially faces a maximum sentence of 8½ to 17 years in prison on the charges. Lynch also faces a possible mandatory minimum sentence of three years imprisonment for the drunken driving death.
Lynch remains free on bail, but under house arrest, pending his sentencing hearing.
During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Lauren McNulty and co-prosecutor Colleen McIntyre alleged Lynch’s blood-alcohol content was 0.136 percent at the time of the crash, which is above the legal blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent.
During the trial, testimony revealed Lynch and his friends used a so-called “quarter game” to monitor the number of beers and shots he consumed in the hours before he drove drunk and killed Good, a 57-year-old resident of Alburtis, Lehigh County. Under the rules of the quarter game Lynch wasn’t supposed to be served more than one shot of alcohol with his beer within an hour, according to testimony.
Bartenders at Lynch’s favorite nightspots or his friends would flip the coin and if it came up “heads” Lynch could have a shot, according to testimony. However, according to testimony, Lynch’s girlfriend, Vicky Coburn, and others would rig the game so that the coin would reveal “tails” if Lynch tried to get more than one shot within an hour.
Prosecutors relied on testimony about the quarter game to imply Coburn was concerned that Lynch was intoxicated and risked being cited for drunken driving the night of April 4.
In previous court papers, prosecutors alleged Lynch “had at least nine drinks that day – his last drink having been approximately one half-hour before the crash.”
McNulty alleged Lynch, driving a 2002 Ford F-250 truck northbound on Kutztown Road, made an abrupt left turn, without signaling, into a driveway, directly in the path of Good’s southbound 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle. At the time, Lynch, with Coburn as his passenger, was headed to a bonfire party at a friend’s home off Kutztown Road, testimony revealed.
State Police Corporal Charles N. Burckhardt Jr. testified his investigation concluded Lynch operated his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to a degree that rendered him incapable of safe driving. Lynch, while turning with no forewarning, blocked Good’s path and Good, skid marks indicate, tried to stop to avoid the collision but was beyond the point of escape, Burckhardt testified.
State police troopers at the scene spoke with Lynch and noticed the odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath and that Lynch was swaying while standing still, according to testimony. Lynch failed field sobriety tests, police alleged.
While prosecutors contended Lynch caused the fatal crash by driving erratically after spending time at two bars and drinking to the point of intoxication, defense lawyer Frank Genovese characterized the incident as an “accident” that occurred on a dark stretch of roadway on a slight incline in a rural part of the county.
Genovese contended that even though Lynch had an elevated blood-alcohol level there is no evidence it impaired his driving. Genovese implied Lynch didn’t see Good’s cycle “until it was too late” as he attempted to make the left turn and that alcohol did not play a role in the crash.
Lynch, who has worked as a foreman for a construction business, has a prior criminal record including a guilty plea to a DUI charge in 2000, according to court documents.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews