The Norman Transcript

April 16, 2013

Photos of fatality accident shown during manslaughter trial

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Photos taken at the scene of a fatality accident last year were presented as evidence and shown to the courtroom Monday during an ongoing manslaughter trial in Cleveland County District Court.

The photos were shown while Lt. Brent Barbour with the Norman Police Department was on the stand identifying pictures taken at the scene of the accident Feb. 20, 2012. Those involved in the accident included Safari McDoulett, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and Mark Allen Peters, who is facing charges of first-degree manslaughter, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and obstructing an officer.

Lt. Barbour coordinates the police department’s Collision Investigation Reconstruction Team (CIRT) and was called in to work after the accident took place that night. As with every accident of this nature, photos of the scene were taken for investigative purposes.

Some of the photos depicted the bloody scene that was left on the roadway on State Highway 9 near 120th Street. McDoulett lay facedown on the roadway in front of her flipped over black SUV. She had been ejected from her vehicle, due to lack of restraint from wearing a seatbelt, and suffered several traumatic injuries.

Barbour recalled injuries to McDoulett’s head and a significant amount of blood on the roadway because of it. The blood spots on the road indicated that her body had been rolled over at one point, he said. Her body also had been covered up with a sheet when he arrived at the scene.

That sheet came from Angela Wilbourne, who witnessed the accident and testified last week in court.

Other injuries of McDoulett’s that Barbour found and photographed included a broken ankle, a cut on her right leg, a large laceration on her right shoulder and other small abrasions. An overall photo of the scene also showed where McDoulett’s body rested in relation to the vehicle after she was ejected.

After permission from McDoulett’s family, Barbour searched the contents of McDoulett’s smartphone. He found an email she was responding to that was received at 6:26 p.m. — three minutes before the accident. Her reply was never sent.

However, Barbour testified in court that his belief based on the totality of the investigation was that her phone use did not play a part in the collision. No witnesses observed irrational driving from McDoulett and no physical evidence showed that the use of the phone played a part in the cause of the accident, Barbour testified.

Several witnesses who previously testified said they observed erratic driving from Peters in his yellow Dodge Ram pickup truck that day, though. Two calls were made to 911 that day before his vehicle collided with McDoulett’s.

Many witnesses also testified that they believed he was under the influence on Feb. 20, 2012, as well. This testimony was repeated in court by police officers and witnesses.

An audio recording played in court Monday that was taken by Marshall Stafford, who was a Norman police officer at the time. Stafford responded to the hospital where Peters was, at the request of Officer Gardner, who had placed Peters under arrest for obstructing an officer.

Peters was transported to the hospital after the accident to be treated for any injuries. Stafford was called to assist Gardner because Gardner believed Peters was under the influence and Stafford was a drug recognition expert.

While Stafford was unable to conduct an evaluation because Peters stated he wanted a lawyer and did not want to answer Stafford’s questions, Stafford made some observations while he was at the hospital, as well as recording some of the conversation at the hospital.

Stafford observed that Peters had slow speech, had “cotton mouth” or a dry mouth, had the tendency to fall asleep quickly if he wasn’t interacting with anyone and had constricted pupils. Stafford testified that these are signs and symptoms consistent with being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Stafford also said he noticed that Peters was confused. Stafford said Peters asked the same questions several times regarding why he was at the hospital and what was going on.

The audio played in court was consistent with Stafford’s testimony of Peters exhibiting slow speech. Barbour heard the audio not only when it was given to him to investigate the collision but also in court Monday. Barbour also visited Peters in jail a few days after the wreck and heard Peters speak in person and observed his demeanor.

When asked if there was a difference in Peters’ speech recorded on the audio versus when he saw Peters in person at the jail a few days later, Barbour replied “yes.”

“It was much more clear, there was no slurring or stuttering. It was what you would expect from a normal person day to day,” he said.

Barbour also testified that Peters’ demeanor was different in the sense that Peters was cooperative with him at the jail. Barbour had to visit Peters at the jail for investigative purposes, at which point he took photos of Peters’ injuries, which were consistent with getting into a head-on collision, he said.

Also during Barbour’s investigation, he found empty prescription pill bottles in Peters’ vehicle. One of the bottles was a prescription last filled Jan. 20, 2012, that advised it should be taken every six hours or as needed for pain.

A prescription pill bottle also was found in Peters’ pant pocket before Officer Gardner took him to jail. The first type of pills were identified as the pills that the bottle’s prescription label was for. None of the pills were missing from the prescribed amount, according to the affidavit filed with charges.

The second type of pills found in the same pill bottle were later identified as Diazepam 5mg, a schedule IV controlled substance, the affidavit stated.

The trial will continue and more witnesses will take the stand today. Proceedings will begin at 8:45 a.m. in District Judge Tracy Schumacher’s courtroom and are expected to last all day.

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