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Bonnots Mill man acquitted in involuntary manslaughter case

Bonnots Mill man acquitted in involuntary manslaughter case

July 12th, 2018 by News Tribune in Local News

Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce granted an acquittal in the case of a Bonnots Mill man who had been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection with an accident that occurred Sept. 15, 2014, in Jefferson City.

Ryan Brauner, 28, also was charged with one count of second-degree assault.

Brauner's case had gone before a Cole County jury this week with evidence from the Cole County Prosecutor's Office presented through Tuesday. At the conclusion of the prosecutor's case, Brauner's attorney, Dan Hunt, asked Joyce to acquit his client, believing the evidence presented was not enough to convict him and should not have been brought to a jury.

Both sides presented legal arguments for why the judge should rule in their favor. Joyce recessed the jury Tuesday afternoon and ordered them back Wednesday morning, when she made her decision and dismissed the jury.

The accident occurred at Missouri Boulevard and Howard Street, according to Jefferson City Police Department reports. Brauner was driving east on Missouri Boulevard and crossed into the westbound lanes, crashing into a vehicle driven by Frank Ovaitt, from Virginia.

Ovaitt and his passenger, Ruth Ovaitt, 57, of Jefferson City, were injured.

On Oct. 1, 2014 — 16 days after the accident — Ruth died from complications related to the injuries she sustained in the crash.

Court records show, in February 2016, satisfaction of judgment was entered in Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem's court in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Ovaitt's family against Brauner.

Both sides waived a jury trial in that case and, to avoid a judicial determination, they reached a financial settlement — with Brauner paying $250,000.

Brauner denied he was negligent in the crash.