by Antoinnette Borbon
Testimony continued today in the case against a young Oregon man accused of stealing a truck and leading police on a dangerously reckless high-speed chase across county lines.
The young man is accused of driving the stolen truck, leading authorities on a 40-mile pursuit. He was arrested after he allegedly crashed the truck in a residential area of Woodland, California.
During the early morning hours of April 24, 2014, according to statements by the defendant, he and another friend made a decision to take a road trip. It turned into a dangerous escapade as the chase finally ended on Palomar Court in Woodland.
Only one suspect was arrested, Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura stated earlier in his opening. Authorities blocked off a perimeter surrounding the area of the crash, but only Elijah Taylor, 21, was found.
Taylor was found hiding in a nearby shed in the backyard of another residence after a neighbor saw him fleeing the vehicle.
Officers surrounded the shed, guns drawn, with a dog from the K-9 unit.
Taylor was heard yelling, “I give up, I give up!” from inside the shed. The dog was commanded to take down the defendant as a precaution, said CHP Officer Simpson in testimony.
A video of the arrest was played for jurors. The defendant was cuffed on the ground as the dog held onto his leg. He suffered a dog bite and was treated on the scene by a medical response team.
Officer Simpson stated, “It was because we could not see his hands, he did not respond right away, we did not know if the suspect had weapons, it is dangerous for officers.”
Blood tests revealed methamphetamine in the man’s system, but no alcohol was found.
Officer Simpson testified to finding methamphetamine in blood tests taken on the defendant.
Although the defendant told the officer he had taken a Soma pill (a prescription medication for muscle pain), he later told Simpson he was given a “Molly,” also known as Ecstasy or MDMA, by a friend.
“His behavior was odd,” the officer stated. “In my experience with drug arrests, it did appear he was under the influence of something.”
“We try to determine the influence in a 12-step process,” stated Simpson.
“It helps us to determine if the suspect is under the influence and if they may need medical attention.”
Officers are trained by doctors and must be re-certified once every two years. But Simpson’s toxicology training was last updated nine years ago, he admitted to Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson.
“If it appears the suspect is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, there are specific tests given by officers to help determine what the influence stems from,” he asserted.
“We take them down to the station to do testing and make sure the person is not in need of medical attention.”
Once the suspect is at the station, “it can also be distressing for the person, [so we make] them feel more comfortable to talk about what happened,” explained Simpson.
“We then run tests to determine the possible drug of influence, alcohol, if suspected.”
Simpson explained a few different tests done with the eyes, saying that “it helps to illuminate other causes.”
Simpson testified that, once vitals are taken, he begins questioning to determine if any medical conditions exist.
The officer described a young man who, once placed inside the CHP car, began licking the window, hitting his head hard enough that it could be heard outside the car.
Simpson stated, “He uttered verbiage, incomplete sentences, [was] very unstable during the interview.” He said he found it odd behavior.
In a photo shown by DDA De Moura, Taylor was seen looking into the car camera with his tongue sticking out.
Simpson testified to a statement from Taylor in which Taylor told the officer he had been driving about 450 miles an hour.
When Simpson had asked Taylor what he had taken, Taylor told Simpson that a friend had given him an Ecstasy pill. But by the time of interview, Taylor said that it had worn off.
Later on during the interview, Taylor told Simpson he could still feel effects of the pill. Taylor said he had taken the Ecstasy at about 7 pm on April 23, several hours before the arrest.
Simpson took Taylor’s vitals, finding his pulse a bit high but not out of normal range for a kid his age.
Taylor’s blood pressure was 130/110, but a short time later was 120/80, within normal range. Body temperature was at 96.3 degrees.
Taylor spoke clearly at times, and then uttered incomplete sentences, said Simpson.
Simpson stated that Taylor’s pupils were not dilated, as a person’s would normally be under the influence of methamphetamine, but it was difficult to determine since often the body builds a tolerance to drugs.
Mr. Hutchinson asked Simpson if the elevated blood pressure could have come from the stress of a dog bite, and/or events leading to his arrest, and Simpson answered, “It is possible.”
According to officers, no drugs or drug paraphernalia was found.
Another CHP officer testified to investigating the crash. Officer Pochok said he took measurements of tire tracks at the scene along with photos. Pochok has investigated traffic collisions for years as a CHP officer. He concluded that it was a collision.
He testified to finding a purse in the backseat of the vehicle. Identification inside the purse revealed it belonging to an Oregon woman. Prescription bottles were found inside the purse, along with nail polish, a dart and phone charger.
He also found a black cell phone and shirt inside the truck. He said the shirt and phone were on the passenger’s seat. Photos shown by defense exhibits also showed two coffee cups from a Circle K store and cigarette butts in the ashtray.
Detective Jennifer Davis of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office testified to taking fingerprints from 11 different areas of the vehicle.
She took fingerprints from the exterior of the driver’s side door, as well as from the seat belt holder, seat adjuster and the interior of the window.
Although the cups and cigarette butts were collected, “no testing of DNA was done on those items,” stated Davis.
“Who makes the decision not to test, run DNA?” inquired Hutchinson. “I just collect items, get fingerprints from areas that may be important, [I] don’t make that decision– not sure who does.”
Hutchinson asked, “But wouldn’t you think that was important to test the cups, I mean I know we see on TV that these items can have DNA from the mouth, correct? So why wouldn’t they be important to test?”
“Yes, they can but I don’t know, I do not make that decision,” Davis replied.
Other photos of the scene showed the truck with tinted windows and the passenger side window rolled down. The glove box was open and napkins were on the seat and floorboard of the truck.
Testimony continues in the morning. The prosecution is expected to end their case-in-chief by early morning.
The defense’s case will then begin and the trial is expected to end on Friday.