After firing his attorney and refusing a public defender, David Edwin Lyle, 54, of Carrollton decided he wanted to represent himself in court. It wasn’t his best decision.
Unfortunately, he was facing two dozen counts following three DUI-related accidents and he quickly realized he was in over his head without legal help. He pleaded guilty before jury selection even started.
Lyle was accused after causing three wrecks in one morning in August 2011 while driving under the influence of alcohol. He faced 24 counts between all three wrecks: two counts each of following too closely and hit and run, four counts of criminal damage to property, 12 counts of serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence, reckless driving, no proof of insurance, and a safety belt violation.
The first two of the three wrecks were both hit-and-runs in which no one was injured. The third crash, however, was more serious. Lyle was traveling east on Stripling Chapel in his 2000 Lincoln Navigator when he crossed the center line and struck a westbound 2006 Dodge Caravan. A mother and her two teenage sons were in the Dodge at the time and all were injured. The 13-year-old suffered two broken legs and a broken arm, the 15-year-old suffered internal injuries, and the mother suffered a broken arm, broken foot, and some internal injuries.
Lyle's case had been shuffling around Carroll County Superior Court for almost three years until he finally decided to defend himself. He opted to plead guilty to the charges and accept the plea deal negotiated between him and the state, preventing the need for the trial. He received a sentence of 15 years imprisonment, with no probation to follow. He will be receiving credit for time served dating back to when he entered Carroll County jail two-and-a-half years ago.
Our Chatham County criminal defense attorneys are always ready to remind potential clients that, although they have the legal right to defend themselves in court, it rarely is a wise course. We believe that Mr. Lyle’s situation should serve as a cautionary tale for us all.