Three young people convicted of manslaughter for removing a stop sign that led to three deaths could get a second chance. CBS News Legal Correspondent Kristin Jeannette-Meyers reports that new evidence has surfaced that could clear them of the crime.
Three teens died at a Florida intersection when they drove their car into a tractor trailer. And three other young people all face long prison sentences, because they allegedly took down a stop sign that could have prevented the accident.
At the trial last year, the three defendants denied taking the sign down. They admitted stealing 19 road signs in the weeks before the accident but denied trying to take that particular one.
Now a parade of new witnesses swear that the sign was down days before the accident. One road worker testified he thinks workers may have knocked the sign over. He tried to tell this to the prosecution team, but was rebuffed.
"She really didn't want to take my message," said Jeffrey Brewster, the construction site supervisor. "It was like she already knew what was going on. What I had to say didn't mean anything."
A key prosecution witness lied when he told the jury the three had been stealing signs the night before the crash. A friend of the trio says prosecutor Leeland Baldwin threatened him with prosecution if he didn't testify her way.
"She said, 'Larry, you told me they told you the sign was knocked down before the accident'," said Larry Jarrard. "'You tell me the same thing or I'm going to burn your ass'."
Prosecutors say there is really only one issue, and it is not when the sign was taken down. It's who took it down. And they say there is no new evidence to change that.
The hearing concludes Wednesday. Then the judge must decide to either grant a new trial or to let the convictions stand.
Copyright 1998 CBS. All rights reserved.