Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2005

Deputy’s trial under way

September 15, 2005

On the third floor of the Leavenworth County judicial center, toward the building's north end, sits courtroom 2, where on Wednesday the trial of embattled county sheriff's department deputy Robert J. Peterman moved into its second day.

Peterman is charged in district court with vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor. The prosecution opened its case Tuesday morning.

Prosecutor Frank Kohl alleges the deputy "unintentionally killed" Jared Moore, a 19-year-old Fairmount Township Fire Department volunteer firefighter, Dec. 29, 2004.

The deputy "operated a vehicle in a manner which created an unreasonable risk of injury to the person or property of another," according to the complaint.

Both Peterman and Moore were traveling to the scene of an injury accident when their vehicles collided at the intersection of 155th Street and Donahoo Road, north of Basehor.

Peterman's attorney, Kiann McBratney, maintains that her client was doing his duty by trying to help an injured person and that the deputy acted responsibly on the night Moore was killed.

Just as divergent as the views of the attorneys arguing the case are the loved ones standing behind Peterman and the late Moore.

Off to the right side of the courtroom sits the Moore family, wrecked by grief and emotionally strained by photographs of Moore's crumpled automobile. To the left are throngs of supporters for Peterman, who's face has remained stoic throughout the proceedings.

Charged with sorting through the case is a jury comprised of four men and two women, all of whom were selected early Tuesday morning.

Testimony resumed Wednesday. Judge Martin Asher indicated the jury would begin deliberations by the afternoon.

A verdict had not been reached as of press time Wednesday.

The Peterman-Moore accident occurred when Moore attempted to make a left hand turn onto Donahoo Road from 155th Street. His civilian vehicle was struck by Peterman's police cruiser, which was attempting to pass Moore through the intersection.

Kohl called several witnesses Tuesday including deputies from the sheriff's office and troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol, the agency that investigated the accident.

Two officers from the sheriff's office, Andy Dedeke and Edward Cummings, testified that officers are trained not to exceed 10 miles over the speed limit during emergency responses. The speed limit near the intersection where the accident occurred is 50 mph.

During cross-examination, both officers indicated they'd exceeded that speed limit in past situations and had not been reprimanded by the sheriff's office.

A trooper with the highway patrol later testified that Peterman's speed topped 90 mph at impact.

Dedeke said at that speed, Peterman was "was not operating the vehicle in a safe manner." However, both Dedeke and Cummings said they believed Moore should have yielded right of way to Peterman's on-coming police cruiser.

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