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Monday, May 19 2014 04:55 PM

Witness testifies alleged texting crash 'worse thing I've ever seen'

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    Felix Adamo / The Californian Anna Marie Reynosa leaves superior court with family and supporters following her arraignment on vehicle manslaughter in the death of motorcyclist Charla Wilkins.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Michael Moon was driving home the evening of April 14, 2012, when he stopped at a stop sign on eastbound Reina Road as it intersects Jewetta Avenue in northwest Bakersfield.

A motorcyclist heading north on Jewetta arrived at the intersection about the same time he did. He said the motorcyclist came to a complete stop, put her left foot down and looked right and left.

Moon noticed something in his peripheral vision, and as he looked to the right he witnessed a pickup plow into the back of the motorcycle, sending its rider airborne.

"Worst thing I've ever seen," Moon said Monday as he testified about what he saw. "It sounded like a cannon going off, and it threw the rider across the intersection."

Moon's testimony came on the seventh day of Anna Marie Reynosa's trial on a charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Prosecutors say Reynosa was texting and speeding when she ran the stop sign at Jewetta and crashed into 20-year-old Charla Wilkins' motorcycle.

Wilkins died shortly after the crash. She suffered numerous severe injuries including a severed spine.

Moon testified he parked his truck while his wife, sitting in the passenger seat, dialed 911. He said Reynosa never applied her brakes as her truck continued traveling north on Jewetta, eventually coming to a stop with the motorcycle upright and partially lodged underneath it.

He said the pickup's driver had been leaning to the right just before impact and wasn't looking at the road.

Moon estimated the pickup was traveling 60 mph at impact.The speed limit on Jewetta is 45 mph.

Deputy Public Defender Eric Hinman, Reynosa's attorney, asked Moon some questions regarding his vision, and if it was true he'd previously told law enforcement he estimated Reynosa's truck was traveling 50 to 60 mph.

Moon said he probably previously gave that estimate. He said his vision's fine, he only wears glasses to read.

Hinman has argued prosecutor Esther Schlaerth will fail to prove both that Reynosa was on the phone or speeding. The trial marks the first time in Kern County a motorist has been charged with manslaughter in connection with texting while driving.

Reynosa was cited for speeding three times in four months in 2012, the last citation coming just days before the crash.

The trial resumes Tuesday.

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