The trial of a woman who is charged in a chain reaction crashed that killed a toddler in 2018 is underway Wednesday, which saw an emotional morning of testimony and evidence.
Charlene Casey has been charged with motor vehicle homicide in the death of 22-month-old Colin McGrath.
Colin was with his 4-year-old sister and a caretaker at the moment of the crash. His sister suffered broken bones and internal injuries, while their caretaker received minor injuries.
“We are here because Charlene Casey’s negligence led to Colin McGrath’s death," prosecutors said during Wednesday's opening arguments.
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The prosecution is being led by Assistant District Attorney David McGowan, while the defense team is headed up by Steven Boozang.
Jurors heard testimony from several witnesses, including a man driving on L Street who witnessed the crash and called 911.
Colin’s family got emotional as they played that call in court.
Other witnesses included a man walking ahead of the victims, who heard the crash and then comforted McGrath’s sister as they waited for emergency crews to arrive.
"She was sobbing, crying, she had a pretty good cut on her right wrist," witness Edward Baskiewicz told the court.
Another witness who spoke was a good Samaritan who tried to help Colin.
"I kept talking to Colin telling them that we loved him and he needed to fight," witness Mary Kate Shea told the court Wednesday. "I put him down on the sidewalk checked his response - there was no response."
Before all of that, both the prosecution and defense gave powerful opening statements – laying out two very different versions of fault in this fatal crash – that hinges on the moment Casey pulled her Prius out into the intersection at L Street and East Sixth Street, where oncoming traffic – including the van that struck McGrath – didn’t have a stop sign.
“Ms. Casey could see for blocks – a clear, unobstructed line of sight for blocks, the quickest glance left, and she could not miss this large, green tank of a van…don’t be distracted from the obvious, Ms. Charlene Casey’s negligence killed Colin McGrath," McGowan argued.
“At the end of the day, it’s a tragic and freak, unforeseeable accident….You’re going to see it with your own eyes – and you’re going to see the evidence will show that van came out of nowhere and sped up and collided with Ms. Casey," said Boozang said.
It took more than a year for a grand jury to indict Casey on the motor vehicle homicide charge, and three more years for the case to finally go to trial.
Testimony in this case will last at least through Thursday, with the holiday weekend off and a jury view of the intersection where the crash happened next Tuesday.