EMPORIUM, Pa. (AP) — A woman charged with drunken vehicular homicide is fighting to exclude blood-alcohol evidence from her case by arguing the sample was drawn too late.
One minute too late.
State Trooper Josiah Reiner testified Tuesday in Cameron County that a phlebotomist drew 22-year-old Kaitlyn Wolfel’s blood sample two hours and one minute after state troopers responded to the Dec. 14 accident, the Bradford Era (http://bit.ly/1GWrvhe) reported.
Defense attorney Gary Knaresboro said the law requires blood to be drawn within two hours for the alcohol reading to be admissible as evidence.
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That’s because alcohol and other substances metabolize over time, and blood results beyond two hours aren’t considered reliable for determining how intoxicated a person may have been at the time.
Wolfel, of Austin, is charged with killing one pedestrian, 62-year-old David Croyle, and maiming another while driving drunk in Shippen Township, Cameron County. Police contend her blood-alcohol content was more than twice the state’s legal limit for drivers and her blood had traces of marijuana and suboxone, a painkiller that is also used to treat opiate addictions.
The most serious charge Wolfel faces, vehicular homicide while driving drunk, carries a mandatory three- to six-year prison sentence — but it hinges largely on whether the blood sample can be used at trial.
District Attorney Paul Malizia argued that the judge should consider the surrounding circumstances, including the lack of 24-hour medical facilities in the rural, north-central Pennsylvania county, and not hold authorities to a strict minute-by-minute interpretation of the law.
The trooper testified that he was delayed in reaching the crash scene because he was at another wreck and said he had to wait for the on-call phlebotomist to arrive at a medical facility in Emporium a few miles away.
Knaresboro argued that the two-hour limit is cut-and-dried, and it shouldn’t matter how much over the deadline the sample was obtained.
Judge Richard Masson said he expects to rule next month.
This story has been corrected to show the defendant’s last name is now Wolfel, not Crosby.
Information from: The Bradford Era, http://www.bradfordera.com