On Feb. 25, 2006, Jessica Rasdall and her best friend, Laura Gorman, were driving home from Ybor City, an area in Tampa, Florida. The two, who were 18 at the time, had spent the night dancing and drinking alcohol. The girls began the 40-mile trek home but the night would end in tragedy. Less than a mile from their destination, Rasdall, who was driving, veered off Interstate 275, causing the car to crash into a tree. Gorman suffered blunt force trauma to her head and died on scene.
Assistant state attorney Rohom Khonsari got the call from the police late that night. Because officers suspected this was a case of drunk driving, an investigation was opened. Rasdall was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter. Toxicology reports showed her blood alcohol content was one and half times over the legal limit.
Assistant State Attorney Khonsari Represents the Gormans
Khonsari represented the State of Florida and the Gorman’s in this sensitive case that shattered the lives of all parties involved. The case received national attention, as Rasdall became an anti-DUI activist. She spoke to thousands of young adults at colleges nationwide, telling her and Gorman’s story. Each speech begins the same way: “My name is Jessica Rasdall and I killed my best friend…”“
Rasdall’s speeches generated a lot of publicity, which could potentially influence a judge or jury. While some empathized with Rasdall, the Gorman family was convinced the speeches were a charade. Rasdall openly admitted to killing her best friend that night, but didn’t think she deserved to spend a single night behind bars.
IDs Found at the Scene
Although Rasdall had stated that the girls did not use fake IDs at the Ybor club, two IDs of legal-aged women were found in the car the night of the crash. Charlotte Lambert, a friend and co-worker of both girls, testified in court saying that Rasdall had previously sought out Lambert’s duplicate ID. She also testified that Rasdall had prior instances of driving drunk. Specifically, Lambert recalled demanding Rasdall to pull over while she was driving them home after a night of drinking. She stated that Rasdall was so impaired she vomited on herself while she was driving.
Jessica Rasdall Sentenced to Prison
Although Rasdall asked for leniency, reminding the judge of all of her public speaking, she could not avoid incarceration. Rasdall was sentenced to four years at a central Florida prison and two years of probation after pleading no contest.
Cases like this are extremely sensitive and devastating to everyone involved. In an instance like this, it is hard to say if justice can ever truly be served, but it is crucial to have a team of experienced legal professionals on your side. Rohom Khonsari utilizes tough cases like this in his legal work as a defense attorney. His compassion for this difficult case with high media attention can be noted in the 20/20 segment. By having represented the State of Florida and the Gorman’s in this national case and now defending DUI Manslaughter cases, Khonsari can relate to both sides of the story. If you have any questions about criminal cases, please contact Khonsari Law Group today.