Sheriff Admits Mishandeling DWI Case

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 6:46pm

The Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish admits his office mishandled the first arrest of a man now charged with killing three Southeastern students. Jon Fairbanks is the first T.V. reporter to talk to the Sheriff on camera since news of the botched case broke.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards admits his office mishandled that first file, but says it won’t have any bearing on this new case. 21-year-old Derek Quebedeaux is charged with hitting and killing three Southeastern students and injuring two. Authorities say he was drunk when he hit them. It’s not Quebedeaux’s first arrest. In 2007, the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s office booked him for DWI, but paperwork was lost and the case never made it to the DA’s office. “While it was a mistake by my office, one that I feel bad about, it does not cause a setback in anyway, shape, or form in the prosecution of the case that’s before the court.”

Sheriff Daniel Edwards says whether that first case went to trial or not, it wouldn’t have a bearing on this new case. “You can’t do it, you cannot charge him with DWI first and vehicular homicide. You have to pick and choose clearly the more egregious crime and the one the public is looking to is the vehicular homicide.”

After an investigation, Edwards couldn’t say who’s responsible for the mishap. “When you file thousands of documents every year you’ve been doing it for years and this is the first one. It’s really hard to come down on someone but you know we have talked about the importance of the job and the need to get it right.”

In February 2007, the Sheriff’s office moved into a new building, the same month of Quebedeaux’s first arrest. Edwards says the paperwork may have been shifted during that move. The paperwork from his first arrest has been found and forwarded to the District Attorney’s office.