News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 24, 2013

Testimony indicates driver legally intoxicated when fatal crash occured

Trial of Travis Ley continues in Vigo Superior Court Division 5

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Testimony today in the trial of Travis A. Ley indicated that the level of alcohol in his system exceeded legal limits when the vehicle he was driving collided with two motorcycle riders in May 2012. One of the motorcyclists, Leylahnd Owens, died at the scene. The other rider was injured in the wreck.

Byran Zindren, a staff nurse at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, and Nicole Knauer, a lab technician at Regional, both testified related to the taking and testing of Ley’s blood after the crash. Knauer said the hospital test result was 0.169 for a blood serum. That converts to a blood-alcohol content range of 0.134-0.162, according to Sheila Arnold, analytical lab supervisor for the Indiana Department of Toxicology, who also testified. Police provided the sample to the state toxicology lab, which found Ley’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.13, Dawn Golden, forensic scientist, testified.

Ley faces a class-B felony charge of causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood; a class-B felony charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury; a class-C felony of operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury; a class-D felony of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood.

Also in Vigo Superior Court Division 5 today and outside the jury’s presence, prosecution and defense attorneys argued issues related to the case.

Defense attorney John Fierek said prosecutors had not properly established that Ley was the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash. He told Judge Michael Rader that police failed to get a single name of anyone in the crowd who identified Ley as the driver. Fierek argued Ley has a Constitutional right to cross-examine any such person, which the state has not provided.

Rob Roberts, chief deputy prosecutor, argued the state established Ley as the driver from circumstantial evidence of a crowd pointing and yelling at him.

Judge Rader ruled against the defense, saying the jury has enough evidence to infer that Ley was driving the vehicle. Rader noted for the record the defense’s continued objection, adding any new evidence entered would include the objection.

The state is expected to rest its case this afternoon, at which time the defense could begin calling witnesses.

See Friday’s Tribune-Star for a full report and return to www.tribstar.com for updates as they become available.