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Accused Esplanade Avenue drunk driver asks for judge trial

The trial for Tashonty Toney's 16-count indictment is set for August 26.

NEW ORLEANS — The man accused of drunk driving and killing two bike riders on Esplanade Avenue during Mardi Gras appeared in court for a discovery hearing Friday.

During the hearing, 32-year-old Tashonty Toney chose to have a judge trial instead of a jury trial.

On May 1, a  Louisiana grand jury indicted Toney on vehicular homicide and other charges stemming from the March crash -- in total, a 16-count indictment. 

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The deaths and injuries occurred March 2 near the route of one of the city's biggest parades - Endymion. Police said Toney plowed through an occupied bike lane while speeding.

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Because Toney's blood alcohol level was estimated at .215 at the time of the crash, he is being charged with a crime of violence, meaning that he would have to serve at least 75 percent of his sentence on the two deaths.

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He faces two vehicular homicide counts, seven counts involving the injuries and seven hit-and-run counts involving other damaged vehicles.

The trial will begin on August 26.

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