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US student's lawyer challenges murder charge

  International  -   POSTED: 2009/07/27 16:05

A drunken American university student challenged a murder charge Monday after being accused of causing the crash of a Hong Kong taxi and death of its driver before commandeering the vehicle and slamming it into another cab.

Prosecutors said California State University, Chico student Kelsey Michael Mudd was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit on the day of the June 27 accident. They have yet to spell out their case in court, but the murder charge suggests they believe Mudd caused the accident.

The South China Morning Post newspaper reported earlier that Mudd was arguing with his driver before the crash.

Mudd's lawyer, Ian Polson, argued in court that the crash "always was and is a traffic accident," arguing there was no evidence that Mudd, 22, was behind the wheel during the accident that killed the driver.

"It's been blown all out of proportion," Polson told Acting Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai.

Polson told reporters after Monday's brief hearing that the alcohol test results are irrelevant because there is no evidence that Mudd was driving.

Mudd, who has not entered a plea, appeared in court with his hair shortly cropped and wearing a dark blue suit jacket over a checkered dress shirt and khaki pants. He did not show any emotion, but briefly glanced to the back of the courtroom, where his parents and friends were seated.

He was remanded into custody after Chainrai adjourned his case to Aug. 28 to allow more time for prosecutors to investigate. Polson said he plans to file a bail application in the coming weeks.


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