Doctor testifies in O’Brien trial - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Doctor testifies in O’Brien trial

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Posted: Friday, February 6, 2004 8:47 am | Updated: 5:27 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Defense attorneys in the hit-and-run-trial of Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien tried to convince jurors Thursday that the pedestrian killed was in a difficult-to-see place before the June 14 collision.

Defense witness Dr. Richard Trepeta told jurors in Maricopa County Superior Court that Jim L. Reed’s injuries leave no doubt Reed was walking from the passenger side of O’Brien’s car.

That would have given O’Brien less of an opportunity to see Reed and bolster defense claims that he didn’t know he struck a person.

Trepeta, a pathologist, used X-rays and autopsy photos to show Reed suffered more severe injuries on his left side than on the right, indicating he walked south to north across Glendale Avenue near 19th Avenue in Phoenix.

Prosecutors have argued the bishop, traveling east, should have seen Reed by arguing he crossed north to south. Reed would have been walking across from the driver’s side of the bishop’s car.

But Trepeta showed jurors an X-ray of Reed’s pelvis, which was fractured on the left side but undamaged on the right. That could happen only if Reed were walking from the passenger side, Trepeta said.

Prosecutors attacked Trepeta for hiding evidence from prosecutors or "playing some kind of game" by using the pelvic X-ray to advance his theory on how Reed was struck.

Trepeta should have revealed that theory in a December pretrial meeting, prosecutor Anthony Novitsky said. At the time, Trepeta didn’t mention the pelvic injury, a key to his theory on the collision.

Trepeta denied keeping the information secret. Trepeta said he came across more information after the December meeting, so he had not yet focused on the pelvic injury and its relevance.

Also on Thursday, jurors heard from the last person to speak with O’Brien before the collision. Jim Gordon told jurors he and the bishop were the last to leave a church following a confirmation at a Buckeye church.

Gordon said no alcohol was served, and the bishop did not appear intoxicated or smell of alcohol at any point during the event. The bishop struck Reed while driving to his Phoenix home after the confirmation.

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