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Last updated on Thursday, January 31, 2013
(BLOOMFIELD) - On day two of the trial of Jason Hays, the jury listened to testimony from the first officer to arrive on the scene, followed by a detective, a certified accident reconstructionist from the Indiana State Police, and two expert witnesses - a forensic toxicologist and a forensic DNA analyst.
Anna Rochelle of the Greene County Daily World reports that Hays is accused of causing an accident that claimed the life of 25-year-old Savannah Allen, on February 15, 2012 in eastern Greene County, and of operating his vehicle with a controlled substance, specifically meth, in his blood at the time of the crash.
The crash occurred around 10 a.m. about 1,800 feet west of the junction of State Roads 445 and 45, east of the entrance into the Lawrence Hollow area. Hays was eastbound in a 2008 Jeep Laredo when he allegedly crossed a double yellow line and hit Allen's 1998 Chevrolet Lumina head-on. Allen was killed as a result of massive blunt force trauma.
Hays is on trial in Greene Circuit Court with Judge Erik Allen presiding. Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw is presenting the case for the State and Defense Attorney James Riester is representing the defendant. The trial is expected to last four days.
The prosecution's first witness, was Jennifer Johnson, but due to a medical issue, she was not able to attend the trial. She was deposed on an earlier date and by agreement of both sides, the transcript of the deposition was read to the jury before they were dismissed for the day on Monday.
Johnson said she was 42, married with three children, had worked for Stone Belt for 10 years and had lived in the same place for 21 years. On the day of the crash, she was driving a vehicle on the highway behind Hays. She did not see the crash but said she had just turned onto the highway when a tire (from the crash) came rolling down the hill toward her.
Johnson avoided the tire then pulled over and stopped behind the Jeep Laredo driven by Hays. Her husband went down to the other vehicle involved in the crash but Johnson stayed near the Jeep. She remained on the scene for about 25 minutes.
Johnson said she saw Hays climbing out of his Jeep, backwards, and she called 9-1-1. She said Hays had blood coming from his face and he seemed confused. She tried to get him to sit down.
According to Johnson's answers, Hays made a call on a cell phone then started cleaning out his vehicle saying he had to clean up his stuff and get his stuff out of the Jeep. She said he had a duffle bag and cleaned out the front passenger side first, putting what looked to her to be everyday trash and car debris in the bag.
Johnson said he then moved to the back of the Jeep, opened the hatch and began cleaning out the back, putting things in a trash bag. She said she was concerned about his health but he was focused on getting his stuff collected. He would not sit down.
She also said at one point Hays was squatted down off to the side of the Jeep shuffling his hands on top of the leaves. Police later found a wooden spoon in the area where he had been shuffling leaves.
Johnson said she did not smell alcohol but could not say whether or not Hays was using drugs - she did see his behavior of climbing out of the window backwards then cleaning out his vehicle - Hays never asked about the driver in the other vehicle.
Greene County Sheriff's Deputy Brad Deckard was the first officer on the scene and the first witness on the stand Tuesday. Deckard reportedly asked Hays to submit to a chemical test but he refused all tests.
Greene County Sheriff's Detective Christopher McDonald, who was called to the scene and has continued to investigate the case, was next up. McDonald was questioned about his investigation and under cross-examination by Riester, asked if he was wearing the same coat, when he collected evidence out of the Jeep, that he might have worn into other houses during investigations into methamphetamine use or labs. He said he wore several changes of sterile gloves to collect the blood splatter evidence off the seat and airbag of the Jeep, but he was wearing the same coat.
Riester asked McDonald if he had tested the seat for contamination and McDonald said no, he did not see any contaminants and if he had, he would have collected them and sent them to the state police lab.
When Kevin Shanks took the stand, he was designated as an expert witness. Shanks is a forensic toxicologist who has worked for AIT Laboratories in Indianapolis since 2003.
Shanks performed tests on a piece of leather with blood spatter - it had been cut out of the driver's seat in the Jeep. He explained the testing procedure and said the specimen tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. A second test confirmed the outcome and the results were peer reviewed.
In Riester's questioning, he suggested that a little piece of methamphetamine could have landed on the blood spatter and caused it to test positive. He also suggested that if four years ago somebody had made meth in the vehicle and spilled it on the seat, it would have caused the test to be positive.
Susan Laine was also designated as an expert witness. Laine is a forensic DNA analyst who has worked in the Indiana State Police Laboratory in Evansville for 18 years. Laine testified DNA analysis showed that in the absence of an identical twin to Hays, the blood spatter on the seat and on the airbag in the Jeep was a match to Hays.
Indiana State Police Trooper Justin Butler was also called to testify about his roll in collecting and transporting the event data recorder's from both vehicles after the crash. Butler works out of the Bloomington Post, graduated from the academy in 2006 and has been a certified crash reconstructionist since 2009.
It's was expected the state would wrap up their case mid-day Wednesday and then the defense will present their case to the jury.
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