Pros­e­cu­tor: Jury should see pho­tos of triple-fa­tal crash

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler @21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mont­coCourtNews on Twitter

Prose­cu­tors want to show a jury crime scene and au­topsy pho­to­graphs re­lated to a triple-fa­tal crash that oc­curred when two men al­legedly were rac­ing ve­hi­cles on Route 422 in West Potts­grove.

Mont­gomery County Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Thomas W. McGoldrick on Mon­day filed court pa­pers seek­ing to ad­mit such pho­tos when Shone G. San­ti­ago and Evaughn-Sha An­to­nio Walters stand trial in con­nec­tion with the 12:02 a.m. Feb. 4, 2017, crash on east­bound Route 422 in West Potts­grove that left two peo­ple and an un­born child dead.

“The com­mon­wealth con­tends that, al­though the pho­to­graphs de­pict the vic­tims of a vi­o­lent and fa­tal au­to­mo­bile crash, their pro­ba­tive value is ex­tremely high and would out­weigh any per­ceived prej­u­dice to the de­fen­dants,” McGoldrick wrote in court pa­pers in prepa­ra­tion for pre­trial hear­ings in the case.

The fact a doc­tor can de­scribe the vic­tims’ wounds to a jury does not ren­der pho­to­graphs of the wounds ir­rel­e­vant, McGoldrick ar­gued.

“Crime scene pho­to­graphs are rel­e­vant if they serve to pro­vide the jury with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the crime scene be­cause a jury can of­ten best per­form its func­tion if it has not been un­duly in­su­lated from gain­ing a full un­der­stand­ing of the crime it­self,” wrote McGoldrick, cit­ing state le­gal prece­dent.

Judge Todd D. Eisen­berg is ex­pected to hold a hear­ing on the re­quest be­fore the trial for the two men be­gins Oct. 16.

Walters, 21, of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., faces two counts of third-de­greemur­der, one count each of third-de­gree mur­der of an un­born child and con­spir­acy to com­mit third-de­greemur­der as well as charges of homi­cide by ve­hi­cle, unsworn fal­si­fi­ca­tion to au­thor­i­ties and reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing other per­sons in con­nec­tion with the fa­tal crash. Walters is rep­re­sented by de­fense lawyer Ryan L. Hyde.

San­ti­ago, 22, of New York, N.Y., also faces the mur­der-re­lated charges and a charge of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dent. San­ti­ago is rep­re­sented by de­fense lawyer Ja­cob A. Gur­witz.

Killed in the crash were An­thony Ro­driguez, 23, of East Elmhurst, N.Y., and Marissa Christina Kelly, 20, of Strouds­burg, Mon­roe County, who were pas­sen­gers in San­ti­ago’s white BMWsedan. Kelly also was preg­nant, au­thor­i­ties said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined Walters and San­ti­ago knew each other by at­tend­ing UTI tech­ni­cal school in Ex­ton.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan when West Potts­grove po­lice re­sponded to the east­bound lanes of Route 422 near the Stowe exit for a re­port of a one-ve­hi­cle crash in­volv­ing a white 2007 BMWthat left the road­way, crashed through a guard rail and ca­reened 200 feet down an em­bank­ment and into a ravine. San­ti­ago, the driver, and pas­sen­gers Ro­driguez and Kelly were trapped in­side the over­turned ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by county De­tec­tive David Schanes.

Ro­driguez, the front seat pas­sen­ger, and Kelly, the rear left seat pas­sen­ger, were de­clared dead at the scene. San­ti­ago was trans­ported by med­i­cal he­li­copter to Read­ing Hos­pi­tal Trauma Cen­ter in­West Read­ing­with­mul­ti­ple in­juries.

An au­topsy de­ter­mined Ro­driguez and Kelly suf­fered blunt force head in­juries. Doc­tors also de­ter­mined Kelly was 15 weeks preg­nant.

De­tec­tives al­leged San­ti­ago’s car was trav­el­ing at a min­i­mum­speed of 121mph just be­fore the crash.

The crash oc­curred near a con­struc­tion area and the posted speed limit is 40 mph and the area is marked by con­struc­tion zone warn­ing signs, au­thor­i­ties said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined Walters, driv­ing a 2007 Toy­ota Camry, called 911 and told dis­patch­ers he wit­nessed a car “run off the road.”

In his ini­tial state­ment to de­tec­tives Walters claimed that San­ti­ago and he were trav­el­ing at a slow speed at the east­bound en­trance to the Route 422 by­pass in Dou­glassville, Berks County, when a black Dodge Chal­lenger with a Delaware li­cense plate pulled up be­side San­ti­ago and then both cars “took off just fly­ing.” Walters claimed he even­tu­ally came upon the dam­aged guard rail, stopped his car and saw San­ti­ago’s car in the ravine up­side down.

Walters ini­tially claimed the black Dodge Chal­lenger also stopped at the scene but then fled.

Based on Walters’ de­scrip­tions au­thor­i­ties ini­tially searched for a black Dodge Chal­lenger hav­ing a Delaware li­cense plate.

How­ever, de­tec­tives down­loaded a video from Walters’ cell­phone de­pict­ing an ear­lier race in the south­bound lanes of Route 100 near Shoe­maker Road and de­ter­mined the cars in­volved where op­er­ated by San­ti­ago and Walters, who was filming the race as he drove. Dur­ing a sub­se­quent March 1 in­ter­view Walters then ad­mit­ted to rac­ing San­ti­ago on Route 100 and later on Route 422 and to ly­ing about a black Dodge be­ing part of the Route 422 race, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

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