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Published: Wednesday, 5/10/2006

Blood test results allowed in crash trial

BOWLING GREEN - Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry yesterday denied a Rossford man's attempts to throw out a blood-alcohol test performed after he struck and killed a bicyclist on West River Road Jan. 15.

David O'Neill, 61, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.214 percent when a blood sample was taken from him at St. Luke's Hospital in the hours after the fatal hit-and-run crash. He is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, failure to stop after an accident, and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Authorities say he was northbound on State Rt. 65 between Five Point and Roachton roads when he struck and killed Dr. Stephen Snedden, 47, and injured George Haig, 49, both of Perrysburg. His blood-alcohol level tested at more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In one of three motions filed with the court, Adrian Cimerman, attorney for Mr. O'Neill, argued that the process by which his client's blood sample was collected and tested did not comply with Ohio Department of Health regulations.

Judge Mayberry denied the motion, saying Mr. O'Neill had not pointed out any actual violations or raised them during an April 28 hearing by questioning either the St. Luke's phlebotomist who drew the blood or the forensic chemist who tested the blood.

Judge Mayberry also denied Mr. Cimerman's motion to suppress the results of that blood test on the grounds that the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant did not contain the date or time of the accident. Mr. Cimerman argued that the judge who issued the search warrant could not have been certain the information was fresh.

The judge said the state trooper went to the home of Maumee Municipal Court Judge Gary Byers on the Sunday afternoon the crash occurred with information based on witness statements from the accident scene.

"Swerving, failure to stop, and striking other objects, actions which are described in this affidavit, make it abundantly clear that the issuing judge had a substantial basis for determining that probable cause existed upon which to issue a warrant to search the defendant's blood for evidence of alcohol impairment," Judge Mayberry wrote.

Mr. Cimerman's third motion - that Mr. O'Neill should not have gotten an automatic driver's license suspension for refusing to submit to a blood test because the Ohio Highway Patrol did not arrest him the day of the crash - also was denied.

While Mr. O'Neill wasn't charged with a crime until a county grand jury handed up an indictment Feb. 1, Judge Mayberry said the trooper's actions the day of the crash constituted an arrest. Mr. O'Neill was removed from his vehicle by a law enforcement officer, taken to the hospital by a law enforcement officer, subjected to a search warrant after refusing to agree to submit a blood sample, and was not free to leave, the judge said.

- Jennifer Feehan



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