A Florida teen pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week after using his blog to confess to causing an alcohol-fueled car accident. Blake Ranking, 18, a passenger in a car who seized the wheel and caused a crash that killed his friend and left another seriously injured told police he had no memory of the incident. But he confessed to causing the crash on his blurty.com blog three days after the October 2004 accident that fatally injured his best friend, 17 year-old Jason Coker, local paper The Orlando Sentinel reports.
Ranking was sitting in the back of a car coming home from a party with Coker when he seized the wheel from driver, Nicole Robinette, 17, as a "prank" causing the car to crash. Ranking's blood alcohol level was double the legal limit at the time of the crash. Robinette was sober and suffered severe injures. Coker lay in a coma until his death on 11 January.
"It was me who caused it. I turned the wheel. I turned the wheel that sent us off the road, into the concrete drain ..." Ranking wrote. He later retracted the confession claiming this version of events was given to him by Robinette and he repeated it out of misplaced guilt. But the confession nonetheless put Ranking in the frame for manslaughter. Further evidence prompted him to plead guilty to a charge of driving under the influence manslaughter during a court hearing this week.
Circuit Judge Mark Hill scheduled Ranking for sentencing on 28 Dec. Under a plea bargaining arrangement, Ranking stands to go to prison for five years instead of a possible 15. He also faces a lifetime driving ban and 10 years on probation following his release from jail.
Ken Coker, Jason's father, said they didn't want Ranking to go to prison for his actions. However the father's criticised some of Ranking's blog posting about the crash as "insensitive" and suggested he might benefit from psychiatric counseling.
As Techdirt notes, many bloggers sometimes believe they are writing something that nobody else will bother to read. But if you write something on a blog it's the height of stupidity to assume it can't come back to haunt you if either your employer or, worse, the police discover a damaging online admission. ®