“Chaos” is how Harrisburg police officer Daniel Peiper described the moment of impact while on the stand in a Dauphin County courtroom.
The trial of Christopher Slaughter, who's accused of injuring Peiper and an innocent bystander last spring, began Monday.
“What are you talking about?” yelled Christopher Slaughter, 31, to his defense attorney, Jay Whittle, before the trial began. Slaughter became irate with his attorney one other time inside the courtroom before jury selection began.
Following the afternoon break and just before opening remarks, Slaughter pleaded to Judge Todd Hoover for a continuance, claiming his defense attorney is incompetent. Hoover advised against that motion and ultimately denied Slaughter's request.
Saturday, April 20, 2013 was a “gorgeous day,” according to Selena Martin, 49. The prosecution's first witness, Martin said her life changed forever that day.
Martin testified she was cleaning her sidewalk because it was “cleanup day” in the city. According to abc27 records, it was former Mayor Linda Thompson's Harrisburg Citywide Cleanup, which was taking part in various neighborhoods throughout the city.
Prosecutors said officers were told to look out for a blue Lincoln SUV, which was spotted along N. 6th Street. They said two officers witnessed the driver make a U-turn in the street without using a turn signal.
Prosecutors said the officers then pulled over Slaughter, and as one officer radioed in the call, the other officer took “five steps towards Slaughter's vehicle” before he took off.
They said Slaughter, who was facing north, turned right and another right onto Jefferson Street. Prosecutors said Slaughter blew through 10 stop signs and nearly struck a woman and child as he weaved in and out of traffic.
They said he turned right onto Forrest Street and never used brakes as he barreled through the intersection of Forrest and N. 6th Street, striking Peiper's police SUV with his K9 “Thor” inside.
The crash forced the SUV to flip onto Martin.
Slaughter was arrested on the spot.
Jaws of life were needed to cut Peiper out of his vehicle. Prosecutors said another officer allowed Martin to step on his head so she could shimmy her way out from underneath the vehicle.
Martin testified she had a crushed pelvis, broken bones, collapsed lungs, among a myriad of other injuries and surgeries she endured over several months. After she awoke from a coma after many months, Martin said she battled severe hallucinations.
"It was a nightmare,” she said. “I seen dead people in the ceilings. I seen people. I thought police was trying to kill me."
Martin said the lasting injuries include chronic pain. She told a jury of eight women and four men she cannot wash her hair, walk, sit or even stand without being in agony.
“Everything is a battle,” said Martin. “Just going to the corner store is a battle."
Peiper also took the stand and detailed his injuries which included collapsed lungs, crushed pelvis, loss of a kidney, several broken bones, and a cracked skull. Peiper showed the jury a scar which spans from his hairline to the back of his head.
He also said he lives in constant pain following his injuries.
Prosecutors used this as evidence against Slaughter, on trial for charges of reckless endangerment, possession of cocaine, eluding police and aggravated assault.
Whittle told the jury they must strike the charge of aggravated assault from the list because it does not apply in this case. Whittle said his client did not intend for harm, but the crash was due to an “unfortunate fate.”
Slaughter's ex-wife, LaToya Slaughter, was present and defended that argument.
"I could say he's innocent on a lot of behalves,” she said, “regardless of what the cops saying or what witnesses are saying, but I'm just going to leave it up to that. I'm just going to play. It's all politics."
Prosecutors played phone conversations recorded while Slaughter was held at Dauphin County Prison. The conversations happened during April and May of 2013. Slaughter was recorded saying “I almost killed two cops.” Slaughter downplayed the seriousness of injuries and events in another conversation played by prosecutors.
The trial ended Monday afternoon after two testimonies. It will resume Tuesday morning and the jury is expected to begin deliberations at the end of the day.
Martin said it was an emotional day in court seeing the man she believes is responsible for her pain.
"I feel disgusted,” she said, “because doing a little jail time is nothing compared to taking somebody's life. He could've taken my life."
Tuesday, September 16 2014 11:03 PM EDT2014-09-17 03:03:04 GMT
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press The killer had a grudge against the Pennsylvania State Police, regularly visited a local shooting range to keep his skills sharp, and picked just the right...More >>
Hundreds of law enforcement officers fanned out across the dense northeastern Pennsylvania woods Tuesday in the hunt for a heavily armed survivalist suspected of ambushing two troopers as part of a deadly vendetta against...More >>
Monday, September 15 2014 5:42 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:42:32 GMT
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press A funeral will be held Thursday for a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who was killed in an ambush outside his barracks.More >>
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press The gunman who ambushed two Pennsylvania State Police troopers outside their barracks, killing one, used a rifle and might have had formal firearms training through...More >>