The Norman Transcript

April 18, 2013

Testimonies conclude, jury expected to begin deliberations today

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Testimony from the state’s witnesses concluded Wednesday in the manslaughter trial for Mark Allen Peters and closing statements are expected to begin this morning.

Jurors are expected to get the case later today.

The last witnesses to testify Wednesday were OSBI employees who discussed lab results showing two types of drugs found in blood samples taken from Peters the night he was involved in a wreck that led to the death of 36-year-old Safari McDoulett on Feb. 20, 2012.

Hydrocodone and diazepam were the two drugs found when Peters’ blood was tested, according to the lab tests and testimonies of OSBI employees. Peters’ blood also was tested for morphine, but OSBI agent Darrell Jeffries said they were unable to determine whether there was morphine present in the blood sample or not.

OSBI agent Paul Wallace testified that the signs and symptoms Drug Recognition Experts look out for when trying to determine if someone is under the influence of these two drugs include:

· Thick, slurred or slow speech.

· Dry mouth or “cotton mouth,” which may cause someone to have a low, raspy voice.

· Constricted pupils, or pupils that will not expand or dilate even in low lighting

· Difficulty staying alert and awake, or being “on the nod.”

· Fumbling with objects.

Over the course of the trial, several witnesses have testified to observing these signs and symptoms displayed by Peters on the night of the wreck.

During Wallace’s testimony, Peters’ attorney asked Wallace if those signs and symptoms were exclusive to someone under the influence of these drugs. Wallace replied no. Peters’ attorney asked if medical conditions could also produce those symptoms, to which Wallace replied yes.

Wallace also testified that a person who repeatedly drives left of center with little or no reaction is consistent with someone driving under the influence of these two drugs. There is difficulty in lane tracking, their lane travel could be impaired and they have a difficult time multitasking, Wallace said.

Testimonies and 911 calls proved that Peters repeatedly drove left of center that day.

Another thing to consider is that science does not allow someone to be able to tell if an individual is intoxicated based on the numerical value of drugs in the blood stream, Jeffries testified. There are many contributing factors that could impact an individual such as tolerance to a drug and metabolism of the individual.

The doses found in Peters’ blood samples were consistent with those of therapeutic doses of the drugs, Jeffries said. Also, while the combination of the two drugs may produce an enhanced effect, it is not possible to know if it produced an enhanced effect in Peters’ case, he said.

However, even with therapeutic doses of drugs, the individual is “always going to be under the influence to some extent,” Wallace said. Whether it is a low or high range of a therapeutic dose could not be determined in Peters’ case, he testified.

Peters had a prescription for the hydrocodone but did not have a prescription for diazepam. Other pills found throughout the investigation also included Alprazolam, which in some cases can be zanex, and morphine and buphrenorphine, which was why Peters’ blood was tested for morphine.

Peters is currently facing charges of first-degree manslaughter, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and obstructing an officer.

The jury is scheduled to return at 9:30 a.m. today at Cleveland County Courthouse to hear closing statements. District Judge Tracy Schumacher said she expects opening statements to conclude in the afternoon, at which point the jury will begin to deliberate the verdict.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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