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Driver in Summer Taylor vehicular homicide case ordered released from jail as case moves slowly toward trial

The man charged with vehicular homicide after he hit and killed activist Summer Taylor on I-5 has been ordered released from jail and placed on home detention despite being held on bail of $1.2 million.

According to court records, Dawit Kelete was ordered released after a bid from his lawyers to allow the defendant to go under house arrest and electronic monitoring as he awaits trial.

Kelete pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving after he crashed into a Black Lives Matter protest on I-5 on July 4th, killing one demonstrator, and badly injuring another.

His legal defense has said the 27-year-old has been unfairly portrayed in the media and that the crash was a terrible accident.

Police say Kelete killed 24-year-old Capitol Hill resident Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries after he sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest. Though he passed a sobriety and breathalyzer test, prosecutors say Kelete told authorities he would suffer withdrawal from a painkiller and suffers from addiction when he was being admitted to the King County Jail.

According to court documents, Kelete’s release requires him to post a $100,000 bond or cash, participate in electronic home monitoring, in addition to agreeing not to drive, consume alcohol or drugs, or possess a firearm among several restrictions.

Court records don’t currently include a trial date following multiple continuances.

As the case continues to be investigated, the court also approved $5,000 in state-funded forensic services for the defense to hire an investigator to provide “video enhancement” services and “relevant calculations based upon the video evidence.”

Video from the night of the incident, Kelete’s lawyers from the Fury Duarte firm write, is “crucial to the defense.”

Taylor, a Capitol Hill resident who loved working with animals, was remembered as expressing joy and passion for social justice. Meanwhile, friends and supporters raised thousands of dollar to help Love with medical expenses, living expenses, and recovery costs following the crash.


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