EMPORIUM — A matter of minutes may upend the criminal case against an Austin woman charged with fatally striking a pedestrian with her vehicle and gravely injuring another in an alleged Christmas week drunk driving accident.

Kaitlyn Crosby (court records also list her as Kaitlyn Crosby Wolfel) appeared in Cameron County Court on Tuesday arguing blood evidence, the cornerstone of the state’s case against her, should be thrown out because police drew the sample minutes after a two-hour deadline required under Pennsylvania’s homicide by vehicle while DUI statute.

Crosby is charged with the felony count and related offenses stemming from the Dec. 21, 2014 death of 62-year-old David Croyle, and maiming of 25-year-old Patrick Hornung. Both men were reportedly struck by Crosby’s vehicle while walking along Old West Creek Road in Shippen Township shortly after 3 a.m.

Timing in the case and police response is critical, according to defense attorney Gary Knaresboro, who on Tuesday argued that police waited too long, and were one minute too late, in taking a sample of Crosby’s blood after being called to the crash scene.

As a result of the missed deadline, Knaresboro said the evidence is inadmissible under state law.

He laid his argument out in Tuesday’s hearing which included testimony from state police Trooper Josiah D. Reiner, a rookie six months into the job at the time of the incident and among the first police to respond, as well as Crosby’s passenger on the night in question, Dominick Manginello.

Both men were questioned and asked to detail the chronology of the police response that night.

Reiner cited unforeseen delays in the process, including in his ability to reach the scene after responding to another crash elsewhere in the area, and the wait for an on-call phlebotomist to arrive at the Emporium medical facility where Crosby’s blood was drawn.

“She (the phlebotomist) arrived two hours and one minute after the call came in,” Reiner testified on Tuesday.

Cameron County District Attorney Paul Malizia said the exigent circumstances listed by Reiner, including the lack of available officers in the rural county at the time of the accident and the lack of 24-hour medical services locally, require the court to give leeway on the two-hour deadline rule.

But Crosby’s defense is calling the issue cut-and-dry, arguing the extent to which the deadline was missed shouldn’t matter.

If successful in convincing the court to suppress the blood evidence, the defense motion would render the DUI aspect of the case and negligent homicide count against Crosby more difficult for prosecutors to prove.  

President Judge Richard A. Masson said evidence, including a time-stamped dash-cam video from Reiner’s police cruiser, will be taken into consideration as the court weighs the evidence and oral arguments.

A decision is expected sometime in the next month.  

 

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