By DORIS COOK
JEFFERSON - Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, an accident reconstructionist and chief coroner's investigator Richard Mongell were among prosecution witnesses testifying Wednesday during the second day of the Sonny Hatfield criminal trial.
The trial resumes today in Common Pleas Judge Gary Yost's courtroom.
Hatfield, 25, of 307 W. 50th St., Ashtabula, is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. The charges stem from a crash, that killed Sharon Kingston, a first-grade teacher in Ashtabula, on Feb. 24, 2004, in Plymouth Township.
Former OHP trooper Ty Tyson, the first officer responding to the crash site on Plymouth Road, at Beck Road and Harold Drive, said initial efforts were directed toward Kingston, who was found dead at the scene of the crash, the officer said.
Tyson was assisted in the investigation by OHP Sgt. John Altman and
Trooper Jason Hayes.
Tyson took Hatfield's statement at Ashtabula County Medical Center.
Tyson detailed for the jury the OHP investigation procedure undertaken at the accident scene: the taking of photos, collection of evidence, and observation of the debris field, including Kingston's Honda Civic. There was no witness to the crash, except for Hatfield.
Tyson said he questioned Hatfield as to whether he had stopped at the stop sign. The trooper said Hatfield told him he didn't know whether he had stopped. Tyson said he and Altman asked Hatfield whether he had been drinking during the day of the crash. Hatfield admitted to having been at a party the night before, Tyson said. Hatfield, according to Tyson's testimony, had drunk alcohol, used cocaine and smoked marijuana the night before the fatal crash. Tyson said Hatfield at first refused to take a blood alcohol test at ACMC but later submitted to it. Two blood samples were taken at ACMC during a 45-minute interval.
Hatfield's attorney, public defender Joseph Humpolick, cross-examined Tyson about the damages to Hatfield and Kingston's vehicles. Tyson said damage to the vehicles indicated the defendant had not stopped, but only slowed down at the intersection before the moment of impact. Hatfield's Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle ended up in the middle of the intersection of Plymouth Road and Harold Drive. Kingston's compact car ended up in a field close to Harold Drive, according to the testimonies of Tyson and Hayes. Hayes told the jury that Hatfield's SUV was pointed in a northeast direction; Kingston's car ended up in a field, pointed in a westerly direction.
The troopers testified in great detail about their crash investigation. The troopers used photographs of the cars, and aerial and ground photos of the intersection, plus debris-field evidence gathered from the accident scene in their testimonies.
In the opinions of the troopers, Hatfield was turning left from Plymouth Road toward the intersection of Beck Road and Harold Drive when he struck the victim's northbound vehicle. The victim's car ended in a field near Harold Drive; Hatfield's vehicle ended up in the middle of Plymouth Road. No skid marks were found on the highway, officers testified.
Mongell also testified Kingston's cause of death was head trauma and extremities injuries resulting from the accident. He further stated Kingston was pinned in her vehicle after the crash. County Coroner Robert Malinowski ruled the death a homicide based on reports from the OHP crash investigators, Mongell testified. None of the reports compiled and written by the OHP indicated that Hatfield was drunk at the time. He was driving under a suspended license, however.
The jury also heard from accident reconstructionist Jerry Dufour of Conneaut, who was Wednesday's last witness. Called as a prosecution witness, Dufour, a former trooper with OHP for 25 years, went into great detail about all the crash evidence recovered, including the sketches and photos compiled by OHP investigators. Describing the evidence and crash reports, Dufour said all the evidence indicates that Hatfield did not stop at the Plymouth Road stop sign before entering into the intersection.
Referring to the debris-field evidence, Dufour said, "It shows Hatfield is coming off Plymouth and turned left toward Beck and going northeast across (the intersection) to Harold Drive."
Under cross-examination by Humpolick, Dufour said there was no way Hatfield had been traveling south on Beck Road and had turned left onto Harold Drive. None of the damage to the vehicles was consistent with that different theory, Dufour insisted, nor were any of the evidence or crash photographs.