June 17, 2014

Family upset no criminal charges filed in death of Arlington baby

An Arlington motorist will be cited for failure to yield in a crash that killed a baby in a stroller last month.

The grandfather of a baby killed in his stroller in an Arlington car wreck last month said Tuesday that he was dismayed to learn that criminal charges will not be filed.

David Bingenheimer of Sacramento, Calif., said Tuesday that his family was devastated by the news that Shantell Skillern, 46, will receive a citation for failure to yield right of way in the May 29 crash, which killed 7-month-old David Bingenheimer.

Skillern’s car collided with a pickup, which veered onto a sidewalk and hit the baby in the stroller pushed by his father, Daniel Bingenheimer.

“We’re upset with the DA’s office for not pursuing criminal charges,” David Bingenheimer told the Star-Telegram on Tuesday by phone. “I’m a grieving grandfather who is frustrated.”

In a statement to the newspaper, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon said:

“This was no doubt a tragic loss for the entire Bingenheimer family, particularly due to the age of the child and the circumstances. The details of the investigation submitted by the Arlington Police Department were reviewed by the most widely-recognized vehicular crimes attorney in the state of Texas. All cases involving death do not result in criminal charges. The facts submitted did not meet the requirements of the Penal Code for prosecution. The liability will likely be aired out in civil court.”

Arlington police said a citation was mailed to Skillern on Tuesday.

The citation alleges that Skillern’s failure to yield right of way resulted in the serious bodily injury of another person. If she pays the preset fine, the total cost (fine plus court costs) is $4,101, according to the Municipal Court website. If she goes to trial and is convicted, the judge or jury will select a fine from within the punishment range, from $1,000 to $4,000.

Investigators have said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

“The investigation confirmed that alcohol and distracted driving, such as texting, were not factors and the driver did not have a red light,” police Sgt. Jeffrey Houston said in an email Tuesday. “With no additional factors, the investigator and Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney did not feel it rose to the level of neglect required for a manslaughter charge.”

David Bingenheimer said that he wasn’t expecting a murder charge but that the driver was negligent.

“Her failure to yield resulted in a death,” he said. “What about manslaughter? She’s not being held responsible for the death of my grandson.”

Skillern was northbound on South Cooper Street, trying to make a turn when her Chrysler and a southbound Toyota pickup collided, police reported.

Seconds later, witnesses said, Daniel Bingenheimer picked up his son and carried him across the street toward Skillern, who began screaming.

The baby was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

“As the grandfather,” David Bingenheimer said Tuesday, “I am hurt and dismayed with the DA’s decision.”

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