CARLSBAD — A 24-year-old man accused of fleeing from police and then hiding in a Carlsbad lagoon was convicted May 14 of charges relating to January’s incident.
After one day of deliberation, a jury convicted Lavar Toosweet McKiernan of driving under the influence resulting in serious injury, hit and run, evading police and harming a police animal, all felonies.
McKiernan’s next scheduled court appearance is his June 12 sentencing.
Police arrested McKiernan with the aid of a police dog after he jumped into the Buena Vista Lagoon west of Carlsbad Boulevard shortly after 1 a.m. Jan. 26, 2009. During the apprehension, prosecutors alleged McKiernan hit and tried to drown the dog.
The dog was not injured in the altercation.
Carlsbad police Officer Samantha Alexander testified she had tried to stop McKiernan at Carlsbad Boulevard and State Street after she witnessed him nearly crash into several parked cars while driving with his lights off.
During the short pursuit, Alexander said McKiernan rear-ended a vehicle inuring one of the occupants.
McKiernan had a blood alcohol level of .14 two hours after his arrest, Deputy District Attorney Dan Rodriguez said in his closing statement.
Defense attorney Karsten Boone argued throughout the trial that the prosecution’s case was lacking sufficient evidence to prove that McKiernan had been driving the vehicle that night.
“I’m not asking for CSI in this case,” Boone said in his closing statement. “I am, however, asking for sufficient evidence.”
However, Rodriguez told jurors the chain of events that would have had to occur for McKiernan to be falsely accused in the case would make him the “unluckiest defendant in the world.”
“Everybody would have to be wrong for the defendant to be not guilty,” Rodriguez said.