Court denies appeal by Soldotna man who hit joggers with car

A Soldotna man convicted in 2013 for hitting two joggers with his car has lost an appeal to suppress evidence presented during trial.

In a decision published Friday, the Alaska Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Superior Court that allowed blood test results and admissions of drug use by Jeromy F. Hurlburt to be used as evidence in his trial.

Hurlburt was convicted of driving under the influence and two counts of first-degree assault, a felony, for recklessly causing serious physical injury. He was sentenced to 19 years and nine months in prison.

In March 2012, Hurlburt, now 43, drove his car into oncoming traffic after failing to follow a curve on a stretch of Kalifornsky Beach Road near the Sterling Highway. The car crossed the center line, cutting off another driver, and continued onto a bike path, where it hit and seriously injured two women.

After the crash, a Soldotna police officer mistakenly told Hurlburt that he was required to take a blood test. The law mandating blood tests was deemed unconstitutional in 2004, but never updated in state statute.

Hurlburt told the officer he was afraid to take a blood test because he had taken methamphetamine for the first time four days before.

The officer then gave him a field sobriety test, which Hurlburt failed. A blood test taken later at the hospital found signifiant amounts of methamphetamine in his system that could not be explained by a one-time use of methamphetamine just days before the accident.

Before the trial, the defense moved to suppress Hurlburt’s statements and the results of the blood test — on the grounds that both were the result of unlawful seizures. The defense also argued that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the field sobriety test that led to Hurlburt’s arrest.

In his appeal, Hulburt renewed his claim that all of the test results — and his statement about drug use — should have been tossed out because he was told incorrectly that a blood test was mandated by law. He also asserted that the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to carry out a sobriety test.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals found no merit in the appeal and affirmed the Superior Court’s decision.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com

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