Teddie Whitefield Trial - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Teddie Whitefield Trial

 Former Wichita Falls police officer Teddie Whitefield is on trial for Manslaughter. His Bench Trial began Monday morning in the 30th District Court. Whitefield waived his right to a jury trial last March. He is charged in the deaths of 18-year old Yeni Lopez, her unborn child and 14-year old Gloria Montoya. Whitefield was on duty in his patrol car when he slammed into the car Lopez was driving in June of 2011.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS-

In closing arguments on Thursday defense attorney Jeff McKnight told Judge Bob Brotherton that experience needs to be considered in this case. McKnight said his expert witnesses were more qualified to make judgements on how fast Teddie Whitefield's patrol car was going down Jacksboro Highway the night of June 30, 2011. McKnight also said DPS investigators should have performed more tests in their investigation. Tim Lovett an expert crash investigator did multiple tests in his investigation and estimated that Whitefield's car was going just under 50 miles an hour instead of 75. McKnight also said the video evidence was unreliable. There was no video of investigators measuring the time distance ratio they say they did. He also pointed out that his experts testified that because the frame rate the video was recorded at meant there was as much as a 40% margin of error in what the DPS concluded. 

The prosecution says that Whitefield acted recklessly and knew better than to speed down Jacksboro Highway at 9:30 in the evening. They also said that defense investigator Lovett made assumption after assumption in his investigation. The tests Lovett said should have been done were not done by DPS because this was a 'T-Bone" crash not a "Head On" collision. Prosecutors also slammed another defense expert who testified that accurate measurements could not be made from the video that DPS used to determine the patrol car's speed saying his testimony did not survive scrutiny. The prosecution wrapped their arguments up by saying three lives were lost in this horrific accident. Nothing can be done about that. The only thing that can be done is justice. 

A decision is expected in this case from Judge Bob Brotherton on Tuesday at 9 a.m.. Newschannel 6 will be there to bring you that decision and reaction from it.  


DAY THREE- 

Before both sides rested their case, more testimony was given in regards to the video that DPS investigators say shows Teddie Whitefield's patrol car going 75 miles an hour just moments before the crash. A local video expert said the "frame rate" that video is recorded at does not mean the time of the video is effected. He also was asked to compare the five frames it took to see the patrol car pass to other cars driving by the same camera. Most were taking twice as many frames of video to pass at Whitefield's car. 

The prosecution also questioned four witnesses who all said they say a police car speed by them on Jacksboro Highway the night of June 30, 2011. All the witnesses said the patrol car was traveling at high rate of speed and did not have it's lights or siren on. 

The case now proceeds with closing arguments on Thursday at 1:30 in the 30th District Court. 

DAY TWO-

Day two saw a pair of expert defense witnesses take the stand. But, before they could DPS Sgt. Aaron Fritch testified that he was incorrect in his assumption that video was real time streaming video. It was used to determine that Teddie Whitefield's patrol car was going 75 miles an hour shortly before the crash. 

The first expert called was Dr. Al Yonovitz. He is an audio and video expert. Yonovitz testified that because the video was not streaming, time and distance used to measure speed was inaccurate. He said it could be as much as a 40% difference. That could mean that Whitefield's patrol car was going only 45 miles an hour. On cross examination the Prosecution pressed Yonovitz that a second was a second no matter what frame rate of video it was recorded. Yonovitz replied that in the "digital world" that frame is only a slice of time. 

The second expert called was Crash Scene Investigator Tim Lovett. He conducted an independent investigation of the crash scene a few weeks after it happened. He reported that his tests showed the patrol car was going somewhere around 50 miles an hour at impact. He also questioned why DPS investigators did not conduct more tests. He used a variety of factors to determine in his report that Whitefield's car was going as fast as the DPS report states. Prosecutors pushed Lovett to admit he made several assumptions in his report. And, asked if he took into account what witnesses told investigators about the patrol car's speed. He said he had only heard about one witness. After being told what multiple witnesses had said about how Whitefield's patrol car had blown past them he said he might have conducted a few more tests. 

DAY ONE-

Day one testimony began with Whitefield's supervisor Sergeant Brian Sheehan. He testified that he was on the accident scene 38 seconds after Whitefield called in that he had been in an accident. Sgt. Sheehan said that Whitefield was disoriented at the accident scene. He also said that the former officer was out of character later while he was at the hospital getting treatment. Sgt. Sheehan added that Whitefield was on the way to meet with him about the computer in his patrol car not working and that Whitefield was not on a call. 

The rest of the days testimony centered on the Department of Public Safety crash scene investigation. DPS Sergeant Aaron Fritch was on the team that investigated the accident. He is now the State Crash Coordinator at DPS. Sgt. Fritch testified how his team recreated the scene from step one. He also said video from a security camera captured Whitefield's patrol car just moments before the crash. Using that video investigators determined that the patrol car was going 110-feet per second. That equates to 75 miles per hour. The speed limit on Jacksboro Highway is 45 miles per hour. 

Whitefield was heard in open court in an interview he did with DPS investigators just a few days after the crash. When asked about what he remembered about the wreck Whitefield said he saw a flash or glance out of his left eye, then blacked out. 

Sgt. Fritch concluded his testimony with the conclusion that speed was the cause of the accident and that Whitefield was negligent in his actions.  

Friends and family members of the victims wore t-shirts today in support of the two girls and unborn child that were killed. They read, "Justful Justice".

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