Bishop Thomas O’Brien’s sister and brother-in-law are scheduled to testify for the prosecution today in the hitand-run trial of the former Catholic leader.
Prosecutors also have a secretary from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and O’Brien’s housekeeper lined up to testify, all in an effort to show he knew he was involved in a fatal crash June 14 in Phoenix and was avoiding police.
Prosecutor Anthony Novitsky told jurors in opening statements that O’Brien got word 24 hours after he struck Jim L. Reed that police investigating the crash were looking for him.
Monsignor Dale Fushek testified last week he reached O’Brien at the Scottsdale home of his sister and brotherin-law, Jeanne and Jim Dearing, and gave him the news.
Novitsky said testimony from his family will show that O’Brien returned to the dinner table after the call and his demeanor changed.
"He said nothing to anyone," Novitsky said.
His family finally questioned him about the call later that evening, Novitsky said.
The secretary, Julie Deck, is expected to testify that O’Brien contacted her two days after the crash and inquired about getting his windshield repaired.
O’Brien struck the 43-yearold carpenter, who was drunk and jaywalking, near 19th and Glendale avenues and the impact crushed the passenger side of the windshield.
O’Brien told investigators the impact was a "flash" and he had no reason to stop because he didn’t know what he hit.
Prosecutors must prove that O’Brien either knew or should have known he hit a person.
The last scheduled witness to testify today is Doris Knowles, the housekeeper who arrived at O’Brien’s Phoenix home as police stood outside trying to contact him by ringing the doorbell and phoning.
Knowles didn’t let police in but she told them she would ask the bishop if they could enter the house.
Novitsky said Knowles knocked on doors throughout the house and called his name and finally heard a voice from behind a closed door.
When told the police were outside, Novitsky said O’Brien asked " ‘Why are they here? Did they tell you?’ "
On Tuesday, defense attorney Patrick McGroder attacked during cross examination the quality of the investigation of Phoenix police detective Alan Pfohl, whose job it was to gather and document the evidence and reconstruct the crash.