Chief Rodney Miller
Chief Rodney Miller

The driver who killed Loganville Fire Chief Rodney Miller during an alleged drunken hit-and-run crash on Interstate 83 last month has prior convictions for DUI and fleeing the scene of a crash, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

A charge of third-degree murder was added against Matthew Scott Diehl at Friday's hearing.

At the close of the somber proceeding, District Judge Jeff Joy determined enough evidence exists for Diehl to stand trial in York County Court. The judge read each of the charges aloud, adding "bound over for court" each time.

"At some point I hope you fully comprehend the pain and suffering ... you have caused not only Chief Miller's family and your family, but the entire community," Joy said before slamming his gavel loudly and storming off the bench.

Matthew Diehl
Matthew Diehl

Diehl, 32, of 39 Valley Road, remains in county prison without bail. In addition to third-degree murder and DUI, he is charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, accidents involving death, careless driving, reckless driving, failing in a driver's duty in emergency-response areas, and failure to provide information and render aid.

Defense attorney Suzanne Smith said she will try to have bail set for her client. A bail hearing has been set for 2:15 p.m. Tuesday before Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy, according to court records.

Smith said she doesn't believe the case rises to the level of third-degree murder.

Miller, 45, was struck and killed about 12:30 a.m. April 27 while stopping traffic on I-83 southbound at the Glen Rock exit.

Eyewitness: Matthew Hopkins testified he was driving home from Messiah College and was approaching the Glen Rock exit on I-83 southbound when he saw red flashing lights.

He slowed and activated his hazard lights, he said, adding he could see the lights from about 300 yards away.

As he got closer he could see a stopped pickup truck -- Miller's, police said -- blocking the left lane and part of the right lane. The truck's headlights and flashing red emergency lights were both activated, Hopkins said.

At about 50 yards away, Hopkins saw Miller walk out from behind the truck, heading toward the exit with something in his hand. Testimony revealed that was likely a flare that Miller intended to light.

"Just before he was hit, he turned to the right and saw (Diehl's SUV) coming at him," Hopkins recalled, becoming emotional. "I did see him try to jump out of the way in that instant."

Thrown: But Miller was unable to get out of the way quickly enough and was struck by Diehl's SUV, Hopkins recounted, then went "tumbling through the air."

Hopkins said the SUV's brake lights flashed for an instant, but he heard no squealing of tires and said he never saw the SUV again that night.

He said he stopped his car, called 911 and found Miller lying in the grass alongside the highway, unconscious.

The force of the impact caused Miller's reflective jacket to fly off and become wrapped around the post of the "Exit 8" sign, Hopkins said.

"His baseball cap was in the middle of the right lane," he said, and there were pieces of a damaged flare on the road.

'I hit a deer': Diehl kept driving for perhaps two miles, but was stopped again by Glen Rock fire personnel, who had stopped southbound traffic about halfway between the Glen Rock and Shrewsbury exits so a helicopter could land for a prior crash in the northbound lane. That's the crash that had Miller trying to close the southbound lane.

Glen Rock firefighter Zachary Immel testified he saw that Diehl's SUV had extensive front-end damage, including on the windshield, and smoke was coming from it.

He said he walked up to the vehicle and asked Diehl, "Are you OK?"

Diehl replied, "Yes. I hit a deer back by the Glen Rock exit," Immel recounted.

Immel said at that point, he had not yet been told Miller had been struck and killed.

'It's fine': A few minutes later, Immel went back to Diehl and asked him to turn off the SUV because it had begun leaking fluids, but Diehl declined, according to Immel, saying "No, everything looks fine here. It's fine."

It would only be a few more minutes before emergency responders learned Miller had been struck, at which point they alerted 911 to Diehl's SUV, Immel testified.

State police arrested him a short time later.

A blood test determined Diehl's blood-alcohol level was 0.118 percent, according to Trooper Jeffrey Gotwals, the lead investigator in the case. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08 percent.

Prior DUIs: Diehl was convicted in 2006 in York County Court of DUI and driving too fast for conditions, Gotwals testified, and also was convicted of DUI in Maryland in 2007.

The York County case involved a crash in which Diehl fled the scene, according to Gotwals.

Diehl was convicted of leaving the scene of a crash, reckless driving and other offenses for a 2001 accident, the trooper testified.

He is scheduled for formal court arraignment on June 28.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.