Archive for Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First responder testifies in double-fatality hit-and-run trial

September 3, 2008

A first responder to a Sept. 11, 2007, accident scene on U.S. Highway 59 said one man appeared to already be dead while the other was struggling for his life.

Gayland Guinn, a Douglas County Sheriff's corporal, testified Wednesday in Douglas County District Court that he and others tried to help stabilize construction worker Rolland Griffith, who later died.

"The only way I have to describe it is your body is doing everything it can just to breathe," Guinn said.

Prosecutors accuse 49-year-old Ramona Morgan of striking and killing 30-year-old Tyrone Korte of Seneca, an inspector with the Kansas Department of Transportation, and 24-year-old Griffith, of El Dorado, an employee of Dustrol Inc.

Morgan, who is from Washington state, faces two reckless second-degree murder charges and a third aggravated battery charge for an injury to another worker.

Her jury trial began Tuesday in District Judge Paula Martin's courtroom.

Guinn testified that no one was around Korte's body when he arrived at the scene near Pleasant Grove, about 5 miles south of Lawrence.

"The legs were twisted in such an unnatural position. You could tell that he had obviously sustained severe injuries in that area," Guinn said.

Later, the corporal also interviewed another Dustrol employee, Amanda Hopper, who was holding the flag to stop vehicles in the construction zone.

Hopper told Guinn that she had earlier used a sign to strike a pickup truck that disobeyed her orders.

Rollin Jensen, a Dustrol construction foreman, has testified that he saw a dark-colored pickup truck speed through the construction area twice that morning and disobey Hopper's commands.

Morgan was later arrested in Osage County, and Guinn said when her truck was returned to Douglas County it had significant front-end and windshield damage.

Morgan's defense attorney Billy Rork has argued that Morgan thought she struck construction equipment instead. He also told jurors Tuesday that Morgan believed she was being followed and running for her life.

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