The Norman Transcript

April 11, 2013

Vehicular manslaughter jury trial begins

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A jury trial involving manslaughter began Wednesday in Cleveland County District Court with opening statements and the first witness called to testify.

Mark Allen Peters, 54, of Noble, was charged with first-degree manslaughter, possession of controlled dangerous substance and obstructing an officer after a two-vehicle wreck Feb. 20, 2012, that led to a fatality.

Peters’ yellow Dodge Ram pickup was westbound on State Highway 9 when it struck a Toyota Sequoia heading eastbound on the highway. The driver of the Toyota was identified as Safari McDoulett, 36, of Oklahoma City.

McDoulett was the community relations director for Oklahoma County District 2. She was ejected from her vehicle, due to not wearing a seatbelt, when struck by Peters’ vehicle, according to the affidavit.

The wreck happened near the intersection of 120th Avenue and Highway 9.

Initial investigations found that McDoulett tried to avoid the collision but was unable to do so. The front driver’s side of Peters’ vehicle made contact with the front driver’s side of McDoulett’s. She suffered trauma to the head, torso and one of her legs, the affidavit stated.

When Peters was contacted at the scene at his vehicle by a Park Ranger and Norman police officer, the affidavit stated Peters “refused to comply with any verbal directions or commands” and “soon became physically aggressive with the officers,” resulting in his detainment.

In the affidavit, the officers described him as having the appearance of being highly intoxicated.

The observations included Peters having thick, slurred speech, difficulty staying awake, constricted pupils, dry mouth and general poor motor skills.

Peters told the officers he had consumed medication prior to the collision. When police searched Peters they found a prescription pill bottle in one of his pant pockets containing two types of pills.

The first type of pills were identified as the pills on the prescription label on the bottle, hydrocodone, and officers observed none of those pills were missing from the prescribed amount that was filled that day, the affidavit stated.

“The second type of pills located in the bottle included six pills, later identified by their markings to be Diazepam 5mg, a schedule IV controlled substance,” the document stated.

The first witness, Jerry Miller, was called to testify in front of the jury Wednesday. Miller identified Peters in court and identified the yellow truck after being shown pictures of it in court which are being used as evidence.

Miller was not involved in the accident that took place at 120th Avenue and Highway 9 but he testified that he had an encounter with him while driving home from work that day.

Earlier that day, Miller first saw the yellow Dodge Ram pickup truck while at a stop sign at 149th Street and Choctaw Road. Miller said the truck came up over the hill at a high rate of speed and at that point he became concerned.

While Miller continued to travel east on 149th Street, Miller said the yellow truck would speed up behind him and then fall back, repeating this several times. He also told the jury he was afraid the truck was going to hit him whenever the driver did this.

Miller said he saw the yellow truck cross the center line of the two-lane road more than once. In one instance, the yellow truck nearly collided with a car in the other lane, Miller said.

While observing the driving behavior of the yellow truck, Miller decided to call 911. The recording of that call was played in court Wednesday in which Miller was stating how the yellow truck was driving as previously mentioned.

Still on the phone with 911, Miller turned from 149th Street onto Peebly Road heading southbound and pulled over onto a blacktop area near the intersection.

At that point, the yellow truck followed him and pulled up and stopped exactly even with his vehicle.

Miller said he got a clear shot of the driver which was how he was able to identify him in court Wednesday, nearly 14 months after the incident.

Peters did not get out of his truck and was only there for a few seconds before he pulled out in front of Miller, headed north onto Peebly Road, and then did a U-turn to head back south onto Peebly Road.

Miller lost sight of the truck at about 164th Street and Peebly Road at which point his call with 911 dispatch ended.

This incident occurred sometime shortly after 6 p.m. Miller said the road conditions were clear, there was no ice or wetness, and it was still light outside and was until he got home about five minutes after losing sight of the vehicle.

Peters’ accident occurred around 6:30 p.m.

Peters’ attorney, Charles Douglas, also questioned and brought up valid information toward the case while Miller took the stand Wednesday.

Douglas pointed out that while the yellow truck sped up, he never hit Miller, he came to a complete stop exactly even with Miller’s vehicle on Peebly Road and then while turning around, navigated the narrow road without going off the road.

When questioned how fast Miller was going, he replied somewhere around 45 mph but was unsure what the speed limit was. Miller also replied that the truck never attempted to pass him.

“It almost sounds like a road rage incident,” Douglas said.

Also, while Miller said the yellow vehicle in the photos he was shown was identical to the vehicle he saw earlier that day, he was never able to get the tag number in order to confirm 100 percent whether that was the same vehicle.

Douglas also stated that it was possible it was dusk at the time Miller saw Peters and it was possible that he saw him through two tinted windows.

“I had a clear shot of him,” Miller replied.

The trial will continue at 1 p.m. today in District Judge Tracy Schumacher’s courtroom at Cleveland County Courthouse.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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