Mistrial declared in case of Boise driver who collided with bicyclist

Denis Garner was an avid bicyclist.
Denis Garner was an avid bicyclist.

A 50-year-old Boise bicyclist died four days after he was struck by a pickup last fall.

An Ada County jury was tasked Wednesday with determining whether driver Andrew N. Spidell was criminally negligent when he collided with bicyclist Gary “Denis” Garner Jr. on a city street in the wee hours of Sept. 2.

But they didn’t get the chance.

Magistrate Judge Michael Oths declared a mistrial after the testimony of just one person — Garner’s wife, Jamie Garner.

Jamie Garner was advised by city prosecutors before she testified not to talk about her husband’s death — due to concerns that it would prejudice the jury. But under questioning from the defense, she did.

Defense attorney Chris Sherman asked the judge for a mistrial at the conclusion of Garner’s testimony. Oths considered it during the jury’s lunch break.

“I don’t think there’s any way to salvage this,” the judge said in declaring a mistrial.

The collision occurred on Vista Avenue, near Lemhi Street, before 2 a.m. on Sept 2, 2016.

Spidell was initially cited with a traffic infraction for not leaving safe passing distance when passing a bike while driving his Ford, F-150 truck. That was amended to misdemeanor inattentive driving.

Mike Journee, a spokesman for the Boise City Prosecutor’s Office, said in February that prosecutors looked at amending the charge to vehicular manslaughter but decided the evidence didn’t support that.

In opening statements Wednesday, Sherman described the collision as an accident, something that occurred in a matter of “two or three or four seconds” — not a crime.

Denis Garner’s death certificate says he died from acute hemorrahagic shock and a ruptured spleen, the result of being hit by a truck while riding his bicycle.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller