A forensic toxicologist called it a "distribution phenomena" when testifying about former Crescent Elk assistant principal Coulter Mann's 0.20 blood-alcohol level two hours after his truck crashed into a Klamath man's car, killing him.
Raymond Kelly was called to the stand by Mann's attorneys to testify how it was possible that Mann was not impaired when his GMC Sierra crashed into a Ford Focus driven by 67-year-old Kenneth G. Jones on U.S. Highway 101 south of Smith River on Dec. 21, 2012.
Mann was driving from a party where he had been drinking for at least three hours prior to the accident.
Kelly testified that if a person of Mann's size drank about six beers of varying alcohol content just before driving he could have registered a .20 BAC, but factoring food and natural reduction in BAC over three hours, he could have registered under a .08 at the time of the crash.
Kelly stated, however, he never rendered an opinion as to whether Mann was under a .08 BAC level.
He explained there was not enough evidence to estimate Mann's BAC at the time of the crash.
"If anyone does that, that's foolhardy," said Kelly, adding that he has no reason to conclude that Mann was impaired when he was driving.
Kelly said Mann's BAC of .20 should be attributed to multiple factors. Kelly contended the "distribution phenomena" played out as follows:
Mann suffered stomach trauma during the crash, which shifted the contents of his stomach into his small intestines, where a majority of alcohol enters the bloodstream. But the alcohol delayed entering his bloodstream immediately because of the adrenaline caused from the crash. Then, once his body calmed down, he experienced a rapid rise in BAC.
When questioned by Zocchi, Kelly stated there is no scientific literature that he could find for this sort of explanation. Nor has he ever testified to this sort of explanation in the hundreds of cases he has been a paid witness.
When his motivation behind the explanation was called into questionby Zocchi, Kelly responded, "My opinions are not for sale. My time is for sale."
Kelly, of Las Vegas, is being paid by the defense at a rate of $300 per hour for preparation, plus $2,000 for each day he testifies. He will resume his testimony today.
Kelly said he was basing part of his opinion on the testimony given by witnesses at the party and at the scene of the crash who did not notice any signs of intoxication from Mann.
Two of those witnesses testified Monday. Del Norte High School Vice Principal Randy Fugate and Smith River Elementary School Principal Paige Swan. Swan said he considers Mann a "close, dear friend." Swan and Fugate both said Mann did not seem intoxicated at the party.
When questioned by deputy District Attorney Todd Zocchi, Swan told the jury he did not cooperate with the District Attorney's Office during the investigation,stating he had already given authorities a statement and did not have anything to add that would help Mann, and that Zocchi was unpleasant with him.
Reach Anthony Skeens at firstname.lastname@example.org.