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Drunk US student challenges taxi murder charge

A DRUNKEN American university student challenged a murder charge yesterday after being accused of causing the crash of a Hong Kong taxi and the death of its driver before commandeering the vehicle and slamming it into another cab.

Prosecutors said California State University, Chico student Kelsey Michael Mudd was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit when the accident occurred on June 27.

They have yet to spell out their case in court, but the murder charge suggests they believe it was Mudd who caused the accident.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported earlier that Mudd was arguing with his driver before the crash.

Mudd's lawyer, Ian Polson, argued in court that the crash "always was and is a traffic accident," adding there was no evidence that Mudd, 22, was behind the wheel during the accident that killed the driver.

"It's been blown all out of proportion," Polson told Acting Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai.

Mudd, who has not entered a plea, was remanded into custody after Chainrai adjourned his case to August 28 to allow more time for prosecutors to investigate. Polson said he plans to file a bail application in the coming weeks.

The South China Morning Post reported that Mudd had argued with the 58-year-old taxi driver before the accident at about 3:30am.

Local TV news footage of the scene of the crash, which has been uploaded onto YouTube, showed Mudd moving to the driver's seat when a paramedic was treating him and speeding off in the taxi and hitting another cab head-on. He appeared unsteady when he was ordered out of the taxi by police after the second crash.

If convicted, Mudd faces a mandatory life sentence.


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