May 30, 2011
A Wichita father is speaking out after a Sedgwick County judge's ruling allows his son's accused killer to go free. Tusten Edwards died last year when Kassidi Barrett's car slammed into the back of his truck.
Edwards had stopped on West Kellogg to remove a large tire from the middle of the highway. The charge of vehicular homicide accused Barrett of being distracted by her cell phone when she hit Edwards' truck and killed him.
"In a drop of a second, you can take somebody's life or you can take your own," said Randy Edwards on Monday, still reeling from the judge's decision.
A drop of a second was all it took for a family's life to be changed forever. After waiving her right to a jury trial, Judge Ben Burgess heard the case and decided Friday that Kassidi Barrett was not guilty of vehicular homicide.
"I'm so devastated, it ruins my opinion of our judicial system because this should have never happened," Edwards said.
Edwards can't imagine how the judge acquitted the woman after she admitted throughout the trial that she had been on the phone and that she looked at her phone to receive a text message and was startled when she crashed straight into the back of Tusten Edwards truck in front of her.
Other witnesses said that the clearly saw Edwards' truck at the side of the road from more than a mile away. He was using flashing yellow LED emergency lights to alert drivers behind him.
"We were very shocked," Edwards said. "We couldn't believe what the judge said. We feel that the judge ultimately killed our son all over again."
Following in his father's footsteps, Tusten Edwards had a love of cars.
"This was his car and this was one of his babies," Edwards said as he pointed to a restored Chevelle.
From the completely restored Chevelle to the '56 Corvette convertible, Edwards had a knack for making them shine. Exactly one year ago on this day, Edwards and his dad celebrated Memorial Day by having a cookout in their back yard.
"Just wake up in the morning and turn your phone off and act like you can't call your kid and see how you feel after a day," Edwards said with emotion. "We've been doing it for almost a year now."
The verdict Friday means Barrett can never be charged with this case again... not even for a lesser charge like inattentive or careless driving.