The physician assistant who pronounced a teenager dead after a horrific crash in Lindenhurst and also took blood from the man charged with killing her while driving drunk testified Wednesday about an odd coincidence.
Moments before the crash that killed Brittney Walsh, 18, on June 24, 2012, David Reed of the Suffolk medical examiner's office said he happened to be in the parking lot of a nearby Wendy's restaurant when he heard tires squeal and saw a silver sedan leave at high speed.
Depending on how jurors interpret what he said he saw, his testimony could be crucial to either the prosecution or the defense in the trial of Michael Grasing, 34, the West Babylon man charged with second-degree murder.
He is accused of driving his silver Nissan recklessly and having a blood-alcohol content of 0.32 percent, four times the legal limit, when he hit Walsh's sport utility vehicle, sending it tumbling sideways down Montauk Highway for more than a block.
So far in the trial before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen, the strongest evidence of recklessness has been the words of John Patsalos, 46, a convicted killer who told police officers at the scene that he "saw the whole thing" after seeing Grasing tear out of the Wendy's and drive in and out of traffic and run traffic lights. He told officers he even caught up with Grasing at a traffic light and warned him he would kill someone if he didn't stop.
But Patsalos died weeks afterward, and some elements of his story have not been corroborated at the trial.
No other witness has reported seeing Grasing changing lanes or running red lights. And defense attorney William Keahon said in his opening statement last month that a detective who later examined Wendy's video surveillance of that night concluded that Grasing was never there.
If jurors believe the car Reed saw while making a phone call was Grasing's, it would bolster Patsalos' account.
Assistant District Attorney Marc Lindemann asked Reed if he called 911. He said he didn't, explaining, "There's a ton of bad drivers."
Keahon suggested it was some other bad driver Reed saw, not Grasing. "You saw a silver vehicle -- you're not saying it's the same one you saw [later] at the crash scene, are you?" Keahon asked.
"No, I'm not," he replied.
Reed said he was in his county vehicle facing away from the Wendy's exit when he heard tires squeal and looked over his shoulder to see "just a flash" of the car.
Reed said he told officers at the scene about what he saw, but didn't tell prosecutors about it until recently.