Local News

Tuesday, May 20 2014 06:18 PM

Accident reconstruction specialist argues alleged texting driver wasn't speeding

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Anna Marie Reynosa turns to leave Kern County Superior Court after her June 11, 2012 arraignment on a vehicular manslaughter charge in the death of motorcyclist Charla Wilkins.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

An accident reconstruction specialist hired by the Public Defender's office testified Bakersfield police findings made in connection with an alleged texting while driving crash were "erroneous," but admitted under cross-examination that he never inspected the vehicles involved, examined the roadway where it occurred or spoke to witnesses.

Scott Naramore said he relied on photographs, police reports and online websites to get the weight of the vehicles and other factors necessary in making his calculations. He never examined the crash scene or the vehicles involved because he "wasn't asked to," and said he wasn't sure if the vehicles were even accessible.

"Your opinion is just based on the limited evidence you received?" prosecutor Esther Schlaerth asked.

"As with every case," Naramore responded.

His testimony on the eighth day of Anna Marie Reynosa's trial included his opinion that Reynosa's Toyota Tacoma was traveling 45 mph or less when she crashed into the rear of Charla Wilkins' motorcycle the evening of April 14, 2012. Police have estimated Reynosa's speed as between 63 to 68 mph.

Naramore also said he believes the cracked windshield of Reynosa's Toyota Tacoma was caused by airbag deployment, not, as police have said, due to Wilkins' head striking it. He testified he'd expect the windshield would be partially pushed in if a head collided with it.

Schlaerth asked Naramore how many of the thousands of times he's been retained as an expert has he found his client at fault. He said that occurred about 48 times.

Deputy Public Defender Ernest Hinman called Naramore to the stand to bolster his argument that Schlaerth will be unable to prove Reynosa, 22, was speeding or texting at the time of the crash. The trial marks the first time in Kern County a motorist has been charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in connection with texting while driving.

Prosecutors say Reynosa hit Wilkins -- who was stopped at a stop sign -- with enough force to lodge the 20-year-old's motorcycle upright and partly underneath the pickup. Reynosa didn't apply her brakes before, during or after the crash at the intersection of Jewetta Avenue and Reina Road, police investigators have said.

Naramore agreed the pickup's brakes were never applied.

Reynosa told investigators in a recorded interview shortly after the crash that she'd been entirely focused on her cellphone. She gave several stories as to what she'd been doing with the phone, including unlocking it, checking a text message or writing a text message.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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