A Dover Township student involved in a fatal crash with a motorcyclist last fall is facing trial not only for the death, but also for allegedly destroying evidence.
Brandon Ray Gillman, 18, of 3611 Emig School Road, remains free on $1 bail, charged with homicide by vehicle, tampering with evidence, careless driving and running a stop sign. A charge of intimidating a witness was dismissed at the time of his preliminary hearing for lack of evidence, officials said.
He waived his formal court arraignment on Friday, according to defense attorney T.L. Kearney.
Gillman is accused of causing a Sept. 21 crash near the corner of Intermediate Avenue and Frederick Court in Dover Township that killed motorcyclist Steven E. Arnold, 50, of Warrington Township.
The crash: When the crash happened, Gillman was on his way to a football game at Dover Area High School about 4:40 p.m., according to Northern York County Regional Police, who filed charges in December.
Witnesses told officers Gillman was driving a 1997 Ford F-350 pickup truck on Intermediate Avenue and turned right onto Frederick Court, then made a very wide U-turn back onto Intermediate Avenue and toward the high school without stopping for the posted stop sign, documents state.
He told a schoolmate riding in the truck, "Don't do this, this is illegal" before making the U-turn, documents state.
Arnold sounded his horn, but Gillman kept going through the stop sign and collided with Arnold, police said.
After the crash Gillman told his passenger, "You can leave," documents allege. The girl was 15 at the time, had never been involved in an accident before, panicked and left, police said.
Changing stories? Gillman gave three false statements to investigators, with details changing in each version, documents allege. In those statements, Gillman maintained he was alone in the truck at the time of the crash, police said.
Two days after the crash, Gillman sent a text message to the girl who'd been his passenger, instructing her not to say anything about the crash to anyone, and also wrote, "no one saw you and I'm probably looking at jail time," documents allege.
Sometime after that, the girl and her mother went to police and turned over her cellphone, according to police, who said they were able to recover Gillman's texts.
Gillman's cellphone was seized, but a forensic examination determined someone had erased all the messages in it, documents state. Police said that's the basis for the evidence-tampering charge.
Case 'tragic': Kearney, the defense attorney, said the case is tragic not only because Arnold lost his life, but also because a high-school senior is now charged with vehicular homicide. Gillman has no criminal record and also no driving infractions, his attorney said.
"Our position is that the actions during this vehicle accident ... do not rise to the criminal level of felonious homicide by vehicle," Kearney wrote in an email. "Brandon has always maintained a position of grief and sadness concerning the loss of a fellow human life and our thoughts and feelings continue to go out to Mr. Arnold's family, friends and loved ones."
Conduct 'reckless': Senior deputy prosecutor Jared Mellott said Gillman's conduct easily meets the definition of recklessness, which is one of the requirements needed to prove vehicular homicide.
Gillman telling his passenger, "Don't do this" before making a U-turn shows he was aware he was engaging in risky behavior but did it anyway, Mellott said.
Also, an expert reconstruction showed Gillman still had time to stop when Arnold sounded his horn, but didn't, according to Mellott.
Mellott said he will argue to jurors that Gillman allegedly deleting his cellphone history and telling his passenger not to speak with police shows consciousness of guilt.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.