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North Carolina state lawmaker charged in driving death

N.C. state Rep. Larry Womble was charged Thursday with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle nearly six months after his car veered into oncoming traffic, killing a man, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

Witnesses to the crash said that Womble’s car crossed into the opposite lane around 11 p.m. Dec. 2. Toxicology reports indicate that Womble, 70, did not have alcohol in his system, WXII12.com reported. David Carmichael, 54, the man killed in the accident, had a blood alcohol level of 0.29, according to the TV news station, more than three times the legal limit for driving in North Carolina.

Womble was critically injured in the accident, according to the Journal, and was in a wheelchair when he turned himself in Thursday. He was released after promising to appear in court later this summer.

The state attorney general’s office will oversee the case because Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, who would normally handle the prosecution, opposes Womble’s position on the Racial Justice Act, the Journal reported.

Womble was a sponsor of the Racial Justice Act, which was enacted in 2009 to allow death row prisoners to appeal their cases on the grounds that racial bias has negatively impacted their sentences, according to ThinkProgress.com. O’Neill opposes the measure.

To date, one man has effectively used the law to have his death sentence overturned by proving that African Americans were prevented from being on the jury for his trial, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

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