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February 28, 2002 -  Tucson, Arizona

Jury Clears Man, 20, In Death of "Car Surfer"

By Joseph Barrios

Jurors found a 20-year-old man not guilty of negligent homicide Wednesday in connection with the death of a man who died while "car surfing."

Darrell Douglas was acquitted of a single felony count in Pima County Superior Court in connection with the Sept. 26, 2000, accident. Thomas Roy Molina Jr., 18, died two days later.

Molina, who was perched atop a car being driven by Douglas in a parking lot at Hi Corbett Field, died after he fell from the car and struck his head on the pavement. Just before falling, Molina placed his hands in front of Douglas' face, the defendant said.

A mistrial was declared in Douglas' first trial because jurors could not reach a verdict.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Mark Diebolt said Douglas' behavior was not justified and he failed to recognize the risk posed to Molina. He said Molina was partially responsible for his own death.

"Tom Molina has been held accountable with the ultimate accountability. He's dead. What Thomas Molina did doesn't excuse what Darrell Douglas did," Diebolt said.

David Alan Darby, Douglas' attorney, called Molina's death a tragic accident. He said Douglas was partially responsible for what happened but said he shouldn't be held criminally liable.

"If you think Mr. Douglas shouldn't have been driving the car with Mr. Molina, you're absolutely right," Darby said. "Sometimes accidents happen that are really nobody's fault from a criminal context."

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