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Attorneys for driver accused of drunkenly killing bride leaving wedding reception criticize ‘Bud Lightyear’ reporting while seeking jail release, rehab

Jamie Komoroski crash scene

Left: Jamie Lee Komoroski (via Charleston County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Office). Middle: image from the scene of the crash (via Folly Beach (S.C.) Police Dept.). Right: Aric Hutchinson and Samantha Miller, moments after getting married on April 28, 2023 (via GoFundMe).

The alleged drunk driver of a Toyota rental who struck a golf cart carrying newlyweds as they left their Charleston County, South Carolina, reception, killing 34-year-old Samantha Miller on her wedding night, has filed a motion asking the court to let her out of jail ahead of trial.

Jamie Komoroski, 25, through her defense attorneys, filed the motion Friday, May 19, according to Court of General Sessions records in the Ninth Judicial Circuit. The defendant has been held without bond at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center since she was booked at 3:03 a.m. on April 29, records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Komoroski’s defense lawyers have asked for a bail of $100,000, inpatient rehab for their client, and permission after exiting rehab to stay at her mother’s home in South Jersey pending trial, according to the bond motion.

The motion said that Komoroski has “struggled with alcohol dependence, depression, and anxiety” and in the last year “sought treatment from medical professionals in the Charleston for severe anxiety and depression.”

“Jamie now suffers from facial tics brought on by mounting and unabated anxiety,” the filing said, noting that her family has identified rehab facilities in both New Jersey and South Carolina so Komoroski can receive “inpatient substance abuse and mental health rehabilitation immediately upon her release.”

Komoroski, who originally hails from the Garden State, would not have access to either cars or alcohol under her mom’s supervision and would not pose a flight risk, the motion said. The motion also highlighted that Komoroski has had no prior run-ins with the law. Given that there is no flight risk or a danger to the community, so the defense argument went, Komoroski should be eligible for pretrial release with conditions.

One excerpt from the motion criticized media who focused on Komoroski’s dressing up as “Bud Lightyear” on Halloween years ago while she was in college.

“Certain media reports paint a picture of the accused as an unrepentant villain who ostensibly had a history of partying behavior, extrapolated from handpicked photographs posted to social accounts appearing to depict the accused attending a Halloween party or socializing with friends while in college,” the motion added, arguing that these inflammatory reports are not relevant to the question of bond.

The defense lawyers said that what is relevant are the facts about Komoroski’s life before the crash and the family support system that would be available to her should she be granted conditional pretrial release.

“In light of her lack of criminal history, her strong familial support and her peaceable character, her commitment to rehabilitative treatment and her mother’s and brother’s willingness to house and support Jamie while she is on release, and the multitude of conditions the court can impose in its order for bail to further protect the public and ensure her appearance, Jamie asks that the court order her release,” the filing said.

The defense said that the issue is not a close call for the court:

In short, South Carolina law is clear: a court must release a defendant charged with a non-capital offense, like Jamie, on bail. The only questions the Court must answer are: (1) must the defendant be released on her own recognizance? (2) If not, what additional conditions of release must be imposed to ensure the defendant does not flee and does not present an unreasonable danger to the community?

Law&Crime reached out to Komoroski’s defense lawyers for comment as well on extensive recent reporting from The Post and Courier about the defendant’s jailhouse calls with family and friends.

“I can’t believe this is my life and my whole life is going to be over,” Komoroski allegedly said, for instance, while in custody. “Oh my God. I just can’t believe this happened to me. Why me? I’m going to be here for years and years and years and years.”

She allegedly made other statements about feeling like a “terrible person” and that the crash was a “freak accident obviously.”

“But I wanted to make sure that I could say an apology and they said I would be able to say an apology,” Komoroski allegedly said in another reported statement.

In a statement to Law&Crime, Komoroski’s defense team said these are the “statements of a distraught young woman seeking guidance and support from her family, as many daughters do.”

The rest of the lawyers’ statement argued that those jailhouse calls should have been exempt from disclosure under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act for reasons of privacy and trial fairness:

The SC FOIA statute sets forth specific exemptions for the unreasonable invasion of personal privacy, and where the public dissemination of the communications would deprive an individual of the right to a fair and impartial trial. The release of private conversations between a parent and their incarcerated loved one is simply not what was contemplated by the FOIA statute. It is easy to envision the obvious chilling effect such disclosure has on communications with family members for any incarcerated individual accused of wrongdoing – individuals who nonetheless retain the constitutional presumption of innocence, as well as privacy and due process rights.

Komoroski attorneys Nathan Williams, Chris Gramiccioni, and Deb Gramiccioni previously urged the public not to rush to judge their client and promised that “all facts” in the case would come to light.

In a recent interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” grieving widower Aric Hutchinson, 36, said that the last thing he remembers Samantha Miller saying was that she didn’t want the night to end.

“I do remember the last thing I remember her saying was she wanted the night to never end,” Hutchinson said. The husband said that the first thing he asked when he woke up from the serious injuries he sustained was: “Where’s Sam?”

It was then that he learned that what was supposed to be the couple’s happiest day was their last one together.

“That’s when [my mother] told me there’s an incident and that Sam didn’t make it,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has sued both Komoroski and several bars that allegedly over-served the defendant alcohol that fateful Friday.

Komoroski allegedly had a .261 BAC and drove at speeds of 65 mph in a 25 mph zone before hitting the golf cart in a “drunken haze” in Folly Beach, authorities allege.

For that, the defendant faces charges of reckless vehicular homicide and three counts of driving under the influence, causing death or great bodily injury, for the death of Miller and the serious injuries Hutchinson and two others sustained. Hutchinson’s lawsuit said that his brother-in-law Benjamin Garrett and Garrett’s 17-year-old son were also injured. Benjamin Garrett was driving the golf cart and his son was next to him, the lawsuit said.

“Despite living on James Island, Jamie Komoroski, in the stupor of a drunken haze, mistakenly drove east on East Ashley Avenue in the opposite direction of her home. As she headed east on East Ashely Avenue, Jamie Komoroski accelerate rapidly,” the lawsuit said. “Even as she blew through the 25-mph speed limit, Jamie Komoroski continued to accelerate. Reaching speeds of approximately 65-mph, Jamie Komoroski hurtled down Ashely Avenue and slammed into the back of the golf cart in which the plaintiffs were riding.”

“As a result of the violent and catastrophic collision,” the lawsuit added, “each of the Plaintiffs suffered terrible and permanent injures and Aric’s new bride, Samantha Miller, lost her life.”

The plaintiffs claim that Komoroski was “bar hopping” and was “noticeably and visibly intoxicated” when she was served alcohol at various bars named in the suit.

In a statement last week after being named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit, Charleston-area restaurant Taco Boy said that it had recently hired Komoroski and that there “were no red flags” in a background check. The bar denied claims that Komoroski drank there on April 28.

“On the day of the accident, Friday, April 28, 2023, we can confirm with absolute certainty that Jamie Komoroski did not set foot in Taco Boy, nor did anyone on our team serve her alcohol at the restaurant,” the restaurant said. “We have confirmed this by watching 16 hours of video footage from multiple cameras, staff interviews with everyone working that day, and by reviewing all sales receipts.”

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.