Teen's Twitter boasts get charges upgraded to murder

A teen allegedly hits two cyclists while going 83 mph in a 40 mph zone. When police discover he allegedly boasted of fast driving on Twitter, they change a manslaughter charge to murder.

Hall's Twitter feed. His tweets are now protected. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Sadly, bragging is a natural impulse.

But as with so many impulses, the more people you brag to, the more exposed you become to unexpected consequences.

18-year-old Cody Hall of Pleasanton, Calif., was arrested after allegedly hitting two cyclists with his car, killing one.

He was said to be going 83 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Initially, he was charged with vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving. However, as the Associated Press reports, prosecutors began to examine his Twitter feed.

There, they allegedly found boasts about his predilection for fast driving. That, and an examination of Hall's less-than-perfect driving record, encouraged prosecutors to upgrade the charge to murder.

58-year-old Diana Hersevoort died when she and her husband were struck by the car allegedly driven by Hall. Her husband survived with a broken leg.

Readers of the local Pleasanton Patch were first alerted to Hall's Twitter feed, in which he allegedly crowed about going on a "death ride."

He also allegedly tweeted: "Drive fast live young." This was mere hours before the incident that killed Hersevoort.

A lawyer not involved in the case told the AP that prosecutors may use Hall's Twitter feed as an example of a "pre-offense statement" that might suggest a prior mental propensity.

With divorce or criminal matters, lawyers are increasingly poring through social media statements in order to bolster their cases. It will be interesting, though, to see how prosecutors might ultimately use this Twitter feed to make more severe charges stick.

Hall is currently in jail and faces 15 years to life on the murder charge and another 3 years and 8 months on the reckless driving charge, a former prosecutor told the Pleasanton Weekly.

The next hearing in the case is set for Monday.

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