Candice Anderson’s name has now been cleared as new evidence shows the car she was driving and crashed 10 years ago had been equipped with a faulty ignition switch. What was once considered a criminally negligent homicide has now been ruled as a wrongful death case.
The Car Accident
It was ten years ago when Anderson, 21 at the time, inexplicably lost control of the car she was driving, and plowed into a tree, killing then boyfriend, Gene Mikale Erickson. Anderson had pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. She has now been cleared of those charges as General Motors admitted to the faulty ignition switches in millions of its small cars, including the Saturn Ion that Ms. Anderson was driving. “It’s overwhelming; it’s a range of emotions,” Ms. Anderson said after the hearing. “I’m elated. Things are upside down. Or, really, right-side up.”
G.M.’s Defective Switch
The defective switch similar to the one found in Anderson’s car, causes loss of power and the disabling of power brakes, power steering, and airbags. There have been at least 35 reported deaths linked to the defect. Reports of the defective switch went unreported by G.M. for over a decade. Specifically in this case, just 5 months prior to Anderson entering her guilty plea, G.M. had not only conducted an internal review of the crash, but had also quietly ruled the switch was to blame. G.M. also never let Anderson or local law enforcement officials know.
Paying for a Wrongful Death Case
Meanwhile, to pay for legal fees, Ms. Anderson’s parents had to liquidate their 401(k). The final ruling spared her jail time, but she was on probation for five years and had t pay more than $10,000 in fines and restitution. But the guilt was the hardest to bear. “At the time, unbeknownst to Ms. Anderson or my office, there were issues regarding her 2004 Saturn Ion,” Ms. Poynter Dixon, the district attorney who prosecuted Ms. Anderson, wrote in a letter in support of Ms. Anderson. “Had I known at the time that G.M. knew of these issues and has since admitted to such, I do not believe the grand jury would have indicted her for intoxication manslaughter.”
In light of a judge’s recent ruling and clearing of Anderson’s name, she looks forward to moving on with her life. Though she has not heard from G.M., she would accept payment from G.M.’s victim compensation program. “My plan is to take the compensation and take this clearing of my record and move on with my life.”