Jurors view scene of fatal accident
BY RUTH ANN KRAUSE Post-Tribune correspondent December 10, 2013 4:50PM
Updated: January 12, 2014 6:31AM
Lake Superior Court jurors bundled up against subfreezing temperatures Tuesday to view the scene where four Lake County correctional officers were struck by an SUV that fled the scene.
The jury’s trip to the scene of the incident was requested on behalf of Jason Cozmanoff by his defense attorneys, Jim Thiros and Paul Stracci. Cozmanoff, 43, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, has pleaded not guilty to charges including reckless homicide and criminal recklessness in a March 6, 2012, crash along a stretch of 93rd Avenue near the Lake County Government Center.
Britney Meux, 25, was killed in the crash, and David Murchek, Delano Scaife and Latasha Johnson were injured. The officers said they were running east single-file to the right of the white line when they were struck by the eastbound 2002 GMC Yukon.
Judge Salvador Vasquez did not allow spectators from the courtroom to be present when the jury walked from the courts building, through a back parking lot, past the scene and back into the building.
At the request of the defense, Vasquez took judicial notice that the day before the crash, Crown Point received more than two inches of snow, and the day of the crash the temperature reached 70 degrees. Vasquez also took judicial notice that sunset was at 5:47 p.m. and twilight was 6:14 p.m.
Police were called about the crash at 6:53 p.m.
Deputy prosecutors Mark Watson and Kathleen O’Halloran presented testimony from about 35 witnesses, including John Chester, a forensic scientist with the trace evidence unit at the Indiana State Police laboratory in Indianapolis. Chester said he analyzed microscopic pieces of glass collected from Cozmanoff’s jeans and compared it to glass from the windshield, the passenger window glass and an outside mirror assembly. Chester found the glass recovered from Cozmanoff’s clothing to be similar to the other glass.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning.