Comerzan Defense believes law enforcement officials threatened him in interview process
ST. CHARLES - In addition to the testimonies of four state troopers, the prosecution called two more witnesses to the stand on Wednesday in day three of the Serghei Comerzan trial.
The 22-year-old defendant is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of State Trooper James Bava.
Adam Utterback and Sgt. Paul Meyers took the stand Wednesday morning, despite constant objections from the defense.
The prosecution claimed Utterback's testimony would provide evidence that Comerzan would run from law enforcement if he was being chased.
In response, Judge Ted House told Prosecutor Scott Fox, "You all know what is at stake here, so proceed with caution."
The prosecutor called Utterback up for questioning first. Utterback and Comerzan went to high school together, Utterback said they used to ride their motorcycles together all the time.
Fox continually questioned Utterback about a conversation he and Comerzan had more than a year prior to the crash in 2015.
Utterback said he doesn't actually remember the conversation, but with the help of a recording between Utterback and an investigator, he said was able able to remember this:
"We talked about getting stopped by the police. I would stop if the police tried to stop us. He never said that he would or that he wouldn't."
On the day of the crash, Utterback sent Comerzan a Snapchat message with a link to an article about the car crash. Utterback said Comerzan's response was "that's crazy."
The second witness, Sgt. Paul Meyers is a forensic investigator with the Major Crash Investigation Unit.
Meyers contributed in recreating the scene of the accident by analyzing Bava's driving behavior before the crash. He was able to calculate how long Bava was chasing after Comerzan and detect what speeds his car was going, jumping from 55 mph to 105.
The defense strongly opposed these two witnesses, arguing Comerzan wasn't aware he was being chased by a state trooper because he didn't see flashing lights.
At the time of his original calculations, Sgt. Meyers was told Trooper Bava’s lights went on at the bottom of a hill. But in the trial on Tuesday, another witness said the lights were actually turned on in a neighboring driveway.
The defense is arguing this difference could be a major factor in the case.
In response, the prosecution called Lt. Charles Day to the stand, a man that owned a bike similar to that of Comerzan's.
He argued that the bike's mirrors were oriented in such a way that Comerzan would not be able to observe the flashing lights behind him without turning his head completely around.
Something that Lt. Day argued was an extremely unsafe maneuver, especially at such a high speed.
The defense believes that law enforcement may have threatened Comerzan while they were interviewing him at his home after the incident occurred in 2015.
They called Trooper Hollman to the stand, after watching evidence that showed Hollman telling Comerzan, "I hope you were afraid when we were at your house."
Despite video evidence, Hollman could not believe that he would say something like that. "I don't think we would get very far if I was threatening him," Hollman said.
Comerzan will not testify in court. This is the second time Comerzan is standing trial for Bava's death. The first one ended in a mistrial in May 2017.
Stay with KOMU 8 News for the latest updates on this trial.