Man accused in triple-fatal Route 422 crash wants evidence suppressed
One of two men awaiting trial for allegedly causing a triple-fatal crash while racing on Route 422 in West Pottsgrove is trying to prevent jurors from ever seeing a cellphone video of an earlier race the pair participated in on Route 100.
Evaughn-Sha Antonio Walters, 21, through his lawyer, filed papers in Montgomery County Court seeking to suppress from his upcoming trial a cellphone video prosecutors alleged he created of the Route 100 race that occurred an hour before the fatal Feb. 4, 2017, crash. Defense lawyer Ryan L. Hyde contends the video was obtained by county detectives without the proper consent from Walters.
“In the present case the scope of the officer’s search, by downloading the con- tents of the phone, exceeded defendant’s consent and thus the search was conducted illegally and the fruits of the search should be suppressed,” Hyde wrote in court papers.
But in an affidavit of probable cause, authorities maintain that on Feb. 4 Walters “provided written consent” to county Detective Todd Richard to download the contents of his cellphone and Richard was able to retrieve the video of the Route 100 race, which Walters allegedly filmed while he drove at speeds reaching 140 mph. Other videos also were found on Walters’ phone, according to the criminal complaint.
“Many of the videos are of cars racing on the streets or driving recklessly in parking lots. In some of the videos the person filming the video is inside a car filming a race with another car,” detectives wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Judge Todd D. Eisenberg is expected to hold a hear- ing on the admissibility of the cellphone video before Walters’ trial begins on Oct. 16.
Walters, of Washington, D.C., faces two counts of third-degree murder, one count each of third-degree murder of an unborn child and conspiracy to commit third-degree murder as well as charges of homicide by vehicle, unsworn falsification to authorities and recklessly endangering other persons in connection with the 12:02 a.m. Feb. 4 crash on eastbound Route 422 in West Pottsgrove that killed a man, a woman and her unborn child.
A second driver, Shone G. 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 and will stand trial with Walters.
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 BMW sedan. Kelly also was pregnant, authorities said. Detectives alleged Santiago’s car was traveling at a minimum speed 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 were searching for a black Dodge Challenger having a Delaware license plate, dark tinted windows, bright headlights and yellow fog lights.
However, detectives downloaded the video from Walters’ cellphone depicting the 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. The video recorded the speedometer of Walters’ vehicle at 140 mph during the earlier race, court papers indicate.
During a subsequent March 1 interview Walters 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.
Walters, who admitted to traveling between 80and 100-mph during the Route 422 race, claimed he was behind Santiago’s car when he observed Santiago lose control of his car on a curve, crash through the guard rail and careen into the ravine.
Evaughn-Sha Antonio Walters
Shone G. Santiago