News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 24, 2013

Surviving motorcyclist testifies about crash

Quinn said car pulled out in front of riders

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A motorcyclist who survived a 2012 crash was the opening witness for the prosecution Wednesday in the ongoing trial of Travis A. Ley in Vigo County Superior Court Division 5.

Jacob T. Quinn, now 26, testified he and Leylahnd Owens had stopped at a restaurant before going on a motorcycle ride. Quinn admitted he drank a beer before riding with Owens.

Quinn said Owens was ahead of him when the two collided with a white car driven by Ley. Quinn said Ley’s vehicle pulled out in front of the two, leaving no time to respond or brake.

Quinn said he recalled seeing headlights explode and a bright light. “I remember hearing a real loud boom. I remember flying through the air. I hit the ground and remember telling myself to ‘calm down or you will die.’ I started taking slower breaths,” Quinn said.

He said he had broken bones in his leg and hand and remained in a wheelchair for seven to eight months after the accident.

Quinn told the jury he was later charged and pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated with endangerment. His blood alcohol level was 0.108 from a blood test taken after the accident.

He received a three-year sentence, but served no time in jail; instead he served one year of in-home detention.

Quinn also testified he did not have a motorcycle driver’s license or a motorcycle permit.

Terre Haute Police Officer Jonathan Sweatt testified he arrived on the scene about 10:45 p.m. He did not see Ley driving the vehicle; however, he took Ley to the Terre Haute Regional Hospital. Ley consented to blood and urine tests, Sweatt said.

Sweatt said he had been near Seventh and Hulman streets on a report of motorcycles racing in the area.

On cross-examination from Rob Roberts, chief deputy prosecutor, Sweatt said the report of racing was west of the site where the accident occurred.

Sgt. Detective Michael Mikuly testified he took photos of the accident and obtained the blood samples as evidence from Terre Haute Regional Hospital. He took possession of the samples at 1:03 a.m., about two hours after the collision, Mikuly testified.

Mikuly testified he found two 16-ounce aluminum light beer bottles in the front passenger seat and two additional in the rear passenger seat of the white car at the accident scene. The light beer bottles, which had been placed in evidence bags, were shown to the jury.

Mikuly also photographed the steering wheel, showing that the vehicle’s gear had been placed in the reverse position. Defense attorney John Fierek asked if the bottles were cold to the touch. Mikuly said he wore gloves, but did not know.

Questions relayed from the jury asked if fingerprints were removed from the bottle or if any DNA tests were made from the lips of the bottles. Mikuly answered no to both questions, saying the tests were never requested from detectives at the scene.

Megan Rost testified she removed blood from Ley at Regional Hospital and followed instructions on a blood evidence box. In cross examination, Rost said Ley scored a perfect 15 on a test that shows motor skills, how one’s pupils look and how one walks.

Sheila Arnold, analytical lab supervisor for the Indiana Department of Toxicology, testified on how the blood was tested. Once drugs or alcohol show as positive, three more samples are tested as confirmation; each which must be within 10 percent of each other.

Arnold testified that hydrocodone and methamphetatmine were in Ley’s system. Arnold said amphetamine is usually found when methamphetatmine is in a system, as it is often used to make meth.

Roberts asked if methamphetatmine and hydrocodone can be legally obtained without a prescription. Arnold said both require prescriptions, especially methamphetatmine. In low doses, it is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The trial will continue today in Vigo County Superior Court Division 5.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or