SHOW LOW — Shawn Michael Chock, 35 of White Mountain Lakes, who faces a second degree murder charge in connection with allegedly ramming his Ford 150 pick up truck into a crowd of cyclists on June 19 in Show Low, had allegedly “huffed” or inhaled a chemical used to clean computers while driving the vehicle, say prosecutors.
According to a recent court filing, authorities secured a warrant to seize a sample of Chock’s blood at the time of his arrest, and it was found to contain the chemical “Difluoroethane.” Huffing is a street term and usually involves spraying or pouring a substance into a paper bag and inhaling the vapors.
Under Arizona law it is illegal to drive while “impaired to the slightest degree” by alcohol, drugs or a “vapor releasing substance.” Chock was not charged in this case with driving while impaired which, for a first or second offense, is a misdemeanor. Rather, the homicide charge alleges he caused someone’s death by “extreme indifference,” and the chemical analysis will bolster that allegation. The filing itself was a request by the state for the court to allow a jury to hear evidence of Chock’s prior DUI history. The DUI history alleged DUI’s, one of them a felony in the years 2007 and 2009.
Evidence of defendant’s other acts, criminal or not, are not allowed in evidence if the only purpose of the other acts is to show that either defendant is a not very nice guy, or to show that because a defendant did something before he most certainly was doing it again in the present case. But evidence of other acts can be used to, in this case, illustrate a defendant’s state of mind or intention while allegedly committing the crime that is currently charged. It’s a fine line and the prosecutor’s notice to the defense and the court of it’s intent to use such evidence is a the first step. The defense will respond and the court will set a hearing on that legal issue to say yea or nay to the request way before a jury is empaneled.
Chock was also indicted by a grand jury for one Class 2 Felony, aggravated assault against a peace officer, eight Class 3 Felonies against other persons, presumably the other severely injured cyclists, a Class 2 Felony of leaving the scene of a collision involving death or serious injury, and a Class 5 Felony of unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle. The man who died was Jeremy Barrett, 58 years old.
According to reports, Barrett’s girlfriend said that Barrett suffered “massive internal injuries and broken bones.” He was treated at a Flagstaff hospital. Along the way, he seemed to be recovering and was planning on being moved to a Tucson facility. But Barrett apparently suffered a stroke and died on July 10. The girlfriend reportedly described him as a kind, knowledgeable and helpful man who spent parts of his life in Zimbabwe and Australia and was well know among cycling enthusiasts for mentoring new cyclists.
In the recent court filing, prosecutors allege that after Chock drove into the cyclists, he hit a telephone pole, fled the scene and attempted to hit a police officer with Chock’s truck in the area of 3rd Drive and Oliver street.
An officer shot Chock, who “sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
Chock is presumed by law to be innocent and his next court date is Sept. 3.