The Norman Transcript

April 13, 2013

Manslaughter trial testimony paints graphic picture

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — When Tommy Hamilton came upon the body of Safari McDoulett, he saw there was nothing he could do. Being trained as a combat lifesaver and serving in Operation Desert Storm, after seeing her injuries and the condition of her body, he knew there was no need to try administering aid.

“She was unconscious and had no movement,” Hamilton said. “There was a lot of blood on the pavement around her head. Just did not look good.”

Hamilton was one of five witnesses called to testify Friday in the jury trial of Mark Allen Peters, 54, who has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and obstructing an officer after a two-vehicle wreck Feb. 20, 2012, that led to the death of McDoulett.

Peters’ yellow Dodge Ram pickup was heading westbound on State Highway 9 when it struck a Toyota Sequoia heading eastbound on the highway. McDoulett, 36, was driving the Sequoia.

Coming from just outside Little Axe with his then 19-year old daughter, Hamilton was one of the first to arrive on the scene. After coming upon stalled traffic, he said he noticed a flurry of papers floating in the air.

According to Hamilton, he got out of his car to offer assistance.

When he reached the accident site, the first thing he saw was a vehicle on its roof and a person out front, face down. He said he noticed an broken ankle and that her breathing was labored and heavy.

As another passerby called 911, Hamilton said he went to go check on the yellow Dodge Ram, which he believed had also been part of the collision. When he reached the truck, Hamilton testified he asked Peters if he was driving the truck. According to Hamilton Peters rolled his eyes and shook his head yes.

Hamilton was asked what his opinion was of Peter’s demeanor at the time. Hamilton said Peters appeared to be intoxicated.

On cross examination, Peter’s defense attorney Charles Douglass asked if Hamilton was an expert on intoxication or had been trained in the field. Hamilton said he wasn’t.

“My father is an alcoholic,” Hamilton said. “I’ve seen that behavior plenty of times throughout my life.”

Several of the witnesses that took the stand had the same impressions of Peters. Frederick Dittmar said when he came upon Yellow Dodge Ram pickup, he asked Peter’s if he was all right. According to Dittmar, Peter’s became belligerent and used foul language to tell him to mind his own business.

“I thought he was inebriated,” Dittmar said. “Just a raw guess.”

Park Ranger Stephen Hoelscher was the first law enforcement to arrive at the crash site. He had received a call 15 minutes early to be on the lookout for a yellow Dodge Pickup and that the driver may be intoxicated. After checking his normal jurisdiction around Thunderbird Lake, he drove west on 156th and came upon McDoulett.

According to Hoelscher, people had covered the body of McDoulett with a sheet.

“When I first walked up on her, the sheet had blown off,” Hoelscher said. “She looked in bad shape. I knew there was nothing I could do.”

Hoelscher said someone yelled at him that someone else was hurt and that he was intoxicated. He drove about 400-500 feet to where the yellow truck was and found the defendant leaning inside the truck window fumbling for something. Hoelscher testified at that time he believed he had a suspect and not a victim.

Hoelscher said he asked Peters to turn around three times and was ignored each time. Hoelscher grabbed Peters by the shoulder and took his cell phone.

“He swung his arm, almost striking,” Hoelscher said. “He then grabbed a hold of the door handle and wouldn’t let go. I pulled him off and took him to the ground.”

After a brief scuffle, a Norman Police officer arrive and helped Hoelscher get Peter’s arms behind his back and then handcuffed him, according to Hoelscher.

“His speech was slurred and lethargic,” Hoelscher said. “He had a toothpick sticking out of the top of his forehead. Based on my training experience, he appeared to be under some intoxicants.”

Douglass asked Hoelscher if it was possible that the slurred speech, lethargy could all have been the results of the collision. Hoelscher said yes.

A pair of Norman police officers and paramedic Travis Snow all testified before the day’s proceedings ended.

The trial resumes at 8:45 p.m. Monday in the courtroom of District Judge Tracy Schumacher. She released jurors for the weekend, admonishing them not to discuss the case or read any media reports.

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