Trucker accused of killing state trooper appears in court

Attorneys gear up for trial, debate expert testimony

Posted 8/13/18

A man accused of hitting and killing a Colorado state trooper in 2016 appeared in a Douglas County courtroom Aug. 10 as attorneys gear up for his September trial, set nearly two years after the …

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Trucker accused of killing state trooper appears in court

Attorneys gear up for trial, debate expert testimony

Posted

A man accused of hitting and killing a Colorado state trooper in 2016 appeared in a Douglas County courtroom Aug. 10 as attorneys gear up for his September trial, set nearly two years after the incident occurred.

Trooper Cody Donahue, 34, was investigating a car accident along Interstate 25 south of Castle Rock on Nov. 25, 2016, when he was struck and killed by a passing U.S. Foods truck. Dohanue is survived by his wife, Velma, and two daughters, Maya and Leila.

Noe Gamez-Ruiz, the truck's driver, pulled over and remained on scene when the incident took place. He was arrested and posted a $500 bond the morning after.

Gamez-Ruiz initially faced charges of careless driving resulting in death and careless driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Prosecutors later added a class 5 felony charge of criminally negligent homicide.

He pleaded not guilty in June 2017.

Although court dates frequently change, Gamez-Ruiz has three more appearances scheduled before his case goes to trial on Sept. 11, according to court dockets.

During the Aug. 10 motions hearing, the defense and prosecution squared off over the prosecution's plan to use expert testimony from a source the defense said didn't have scientific or evidence-based opinions.

Judge Shay Whitaker also scrutinized the expert's report but after nearly two hours of debate, denied the defense's motion asking the expert be barred from testifying.

The report takes into account witness statements from the accident. In one instance, a driver who was roughly 20 to 30 yards behind Gamez-Ruiz reported seeing a trooper walk to the front of their car before Donahue was hit.

From that, the expert concluded if other witnesses could see Donahue, so could Gamez-Ruiz.

Defense attorney Steve Burstein called that and other conclusions from the expert speculation. Whitaker also called the expert's conclusion a leap.

“These are issues (Burstein) can cross-examine on,” said a prosecutor with the district attorney's office.

The prosecutor defended his expert's merit. With 30 years of experience and training in the trucking industry, and knowledge of driving large vehicles, the expert would offer insight into how a trucker should have reacted that day, he said.

Whitaker ultimately agreed that the expert could help jurors understand evidence that comes before them during trial. A pre-trial conference is set for Aug. 31.

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