Two men on trial in York County Court dispute police allegations they were racing on Route 30 in Springettsbury Township, and one disputes he was even involved in the subsequent crash that badly injured a nurse.
It seems logical police allegations could be proved or disproved by simply analyzing data from event data recorders inside the men's vehicles. The devices record, among other things, the speed of a vehicle prior to a collision.
A state police crash reconstructionist testified Tuesday about 85 percent of newer cars on the road today have such recorders, which are similar to the "black boxes" in airplanes.
But Anthony D. Miller was driving a 2009 Mercedes-Benz convertible, and co-defendant Julio Cesar Martinez-Ocasio was driving a 2001 BMW sedan.
Those two car companies don't equip their vehicles with event data recorders, Cpl. Gary Mainzer told jurors, and the U.S. government so far hasn't forced automakers to do so.
So the only recorded data available to police came from the 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier of Dana M. Briggs, who was critically injured when Miller's out-of-control Mercedes crashed into her about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10, 2011.
Comatose: Then 54 years old, Briggs was left in a coma for several weeks and suffered physical injuries and brain trauma that ended her career as a registered nurse, testimony revealed.
Mainzer said he was able to estimate the speed of Miller's Mercedes using the Cavalier data, plus measurements taken at the scene of crash, which happened on Route 30 near North Hills Road in Springettsbury Township.
He said Miller's westbound Mercedes was going between 57 and 73 mph when it started to spin out of control, then crossed over a concrete barrier into the eastbound lane.
Mainzer testified he was asked by township police to do only a partial crash reconstruction, and came to no conclusion regarding the involvement of Martinez-Ocasio's BMW.
However, police maintain fresh scratches on the BMW show it clipped the Mercedes, causing it to spin out of control.
The charges: Miller, 51, of 3620 Cayuga Lane in Springettsbury Township, and Martinez-Ocasio, 39, of 216 W. College Ave. in York City, are charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle, racing on highways, reckless driving, careless driving and driving at an unsafe speed.
Miller also is charged with driving under the influence and aggravated assault while DUI. Court documents allege his blood-alcohol level shortly after the crash was 0.115 percent. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08 percent.
One of several eyewitnesses who testified Monday estimated Miller's Mercedes-Benz convertible and Martinez-Ocasio's BMW sedan were going about 100 mph, and said the cars were racing. The speed limit in that stretch of highway is 40 mph, police said.
Attorneys Seamus Dubbs, who represents Miller, and Kevin Hoffman, representing Martinez-Ocasio, have said the crash is a matter that should be handled in civil court -- not criminal court.
Both defendants maintain they weren't racing at the time of the crash, their attorneys said. And Hoffman said he's challenging whether Martinez-Ocasio was even involved in the crash.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.