Driver in deadly Columbia crash makes first court appearance

The driver suspected of fleeing a Columbia crash prior to hitting and killing a woman made his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

Lukas Evans turned himself in to Columbia police Sunday night after prosecutors charged him with murder and felony leaving the scene of an accident two days earlier.

Court records show that Evans appeared in court via video from the Boone County Jail. Judge Tracy Gonzalez ordered a bond investigation, which could recommend a lower bond than the $1 million cash-only bond ordered over the weekend for Evans.

Police suspect Evans of crashing into a car at West Boulevard and Stadium Boulevard on Feb. 16, causing more than $4,000 in damage. Evans then left the scene northbound on West Blvd., passing a car in a “no-pass” zone, and hitting Jordan Hoyt head-on. Hoyt died in the crash.

“I want to apologize to Jordan’s family for everything that’s happened, and that I’m turning myself in because I want to do the right thing,” Evans told ABC 17 News shortly before walking into the police department lobby on Sunday night.

Records from the Columbia Police Department show Evans was involved in at least one other crash in the last five years. A crash report from 2017 shows that Evans called police after a car hit him on West Broadway as he was leaving the Petco parking lot.

The Boone County prosecutor’s office declined to comment about the case or potential charges and a Columbia Police Department spokesman said he had no new information to provide in the case. But prosecutors have a few options if they decide to pursue charges against Evans, former Cole County prosecutor Bill Tackett said.

Tackett said depending on the circumstances of the crash Evans could be charged with murder, manslaughter of enhanced DWI, if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

In Missouri a hit and run can be considered a felony if the person hit was injured or if the accident causes $1,000 or more in damages.

Missouri law allows prosecutors to charge a suspect with murder if someone dies in connection with the commission of a separate felony — leaving the scene of a crash, in this case.

However, if Evans was not intoxicated, Tackett said the cleanest way to charge Evans would be involuntary manslaughter.

“If you take intoxication out of it, then you start looking at ‘Did he put others at substantial risk of injury while operating a motor vehicle?’” Tackett said.

The crash occurred in front of Steve Weinberg’s house. Weinberg said his wife was in the kitchen at the time of the crash and went out to see what happened when she heard it.

“It turns out that we know the mother of the woman who died,” he said. “It turned out to be really gut-wrenching. “

Weinberg said the police have been out several times to the site of the crash since Saturday.

Court records show Evans was issued speeding tickets last year in Boone County and in Lake Lotowana in western Missouri. He was accused of going 31 to 35 mph over the speed limit in one case and 20 to 25 mph over in the other.

If you or a loved one have suffered accident injuries in a car accident caused by one these reckless drivers, call Northland Injury Law at 816-400-4878 to speak to a Missouri automobile accident lawyer today for help in recovering the compensation you need. An experienced personal injury attorney can ease some of the burden by engaging in fact-finding, gathering the necessary documentation, and crafting concise and thorough demands for settlement of your claim.

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