As day four of the State of Missouri v. Alex Catterson trial unfolded, repetitive cross-examination inquiries by the defense left some members of the gallery frustrated and some members of the jury nodding off.
Thursday began with the continuation of Maryville Public Safety Officer Sarah Kahmann, who took the witness stand at the end of Wednesday’s session. Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice quickly pulled over a TV from the left side of the courtroom and played approximately 35 minutes of body camera footage from the night Catterson was taken into custody.
The footage showed Kahmann handing Catterson papers to sign, giving consent for the police department to obtain the event data recorder from his truck. After that, they moved into a small room with a large blue square on the wall. In it were a few chairs, a computer, fingerprinting equipment and photography equipment.
Kahmann conversed with Catterson as she entered his information into the computer. He frequently asked about McCoy, to which Kahmann responds she has not heard anything but will update him when she does.
“I feel like you’re just not telling me, honestly,” Catterson said frustrated.
He sat slouched in a chair against the wall next to the computer.
“Is there any way I can get another beer before I go to jail?” Catterson said.
Kahmann responded, “Absolutely not.”
Catterson occasionally tried to make jokes and hold a conversation, but the environment was obviously awkward for both of them. Kahmann had him stand so she could record all 10 of his fingerprints. As the fingerprinting process ensures, Catterson belches loudly and complains about his hands hurting.
Kahmann tried to assure Catterson that the sooner they get the fingerprinting done the sooner he could sleep.
“The sooner we get done the sooner I go to f------ jail,” Catterson said.
Kahmann had Catterson sit once the fingerprinting was complete. As he waited for further instruction, he asked about his breathalyzer test.
“What was my breathalyzer?” Catterson said. “Was it over the limit?”
Kahmann responded by telling him it was over the legal limit. Catterson asked what the legal was and when given an answer, he said he knew it would be.
“I could have told you guys that, in fact, I think I did tell you guys that,” Catterson said.
Kahmann finished inputting Catterson’s information, took his mugshot and transported him to the Nodaway County Jail where the footage concluded.
Rice pushed the TV back into the corner of the room and Catterson’s attorney, Samuel Scroggie, questioned Kahmann about her knowledge of McCoy’s state.
While Kahmann admitted she had an idea of McCoy’s status, she did not officially hear McCoy had died until the next day.
Scroggie stood up and walked closer to the witness stand repeating his question yet again.
Scroggie went on to fumble through more questions about Kahmann’s involvement with the investigation, asking if she was the lead investigator and what evidence and reports she had access too. After seemingly coming to no relevant conclusion, Scroggie went on to question Kahmann about the probable cause statement she wrote.
The statement included facts such as Catterson’s vehicle struck a building, a woman inside the building sustained lethal injuries, Catterson smelled of alcohol and his breathalyzer test showed a .207, which Kahmann said was all probable cause to charge him with DWI.
Scroggie returned to his seat and sat with an open palm and a pen between his fingers, gesturing to Catterson.
“Did you even ask Mr. Catterson what happened?” Scroggie said.
Kahmann replied that they had multiple conversations about what had happened at the police station where Catterson had admitted to being drunk and hitting a girl with his truck.
“Is there any place in your probable cause statement that he had felt some sort of mechanical break in his vehicle at the time of the incident?” Scroggie said.
Kahmann said there was not.
Scroggie circled back to questioning her knowledge of the status of McCoy during her time with Catterson. Scroggie continually had to slow down, getting ahead of himself, before restarting his questions. Some members of the gallery audibly sighed and mumbled complaints under their breath in regards to Scroggie’s repetitive inquiries.
After nearly half an hour of Scroggie asking Kahmann why she never shared her suspicions of McCoy’s state with Catterson, Rice called four objections in a matter of minutes in regards to relevance.
Most objections were met with Scroggie withdrawing and restating his question or moving on to another topic. After another objection from Rice and the attorneys, Circuit Judge Roger Prokes had to convene to discuss the issue.
Throughout the next half hour, Scroggie stammered through questions having a difficult time deciding what he wanted to say. Several topics were revisited until Prokes finally stopped the conversation, as no new points were being discussed, and allowed Kahmann to step down from the witness stand.
Next to be called to the stand was Maryville Public Safety shift supervisor Rex Riley.
Rice asked Riley similar questions to what he had asked other police officers Wednesday, inquiring about his background, education, certification and his role in responding to the incident.
Riley wrote a report following the incident including things such as road conditions, temperature among other details regarding the crash. When Rice asked permission to admit the report as evidence, Scroggie objected claiming the report included opinion.
Scroggie argued that labeling the roads as dry in the report was an opinion, as no one could say any road is completely dry or clean. Scroggie also said the temperature recorded in the report was an opinion as Riley had not recorded a specific temperature, rather he chose the option on the report that read, “freezing.”
Rice was given an opportunity to continue questioning Riley and revisited the topic of road conditions, inquired about tire tracks and how speeding and alcohol were involved in the crash. Rice argued that the opinions Scroggie spoke of were simply observations.
Prokes allowed the report to be admitted as evidence in full. Upon admitting the evidence, Prokes called for a lunch break.
While waiting for everyone to return from lunch, those in the gallery socialized. Catterson could be seen speaking with his family in an animated manner. McCoy's mother sat amongst family friends, chatting while occasionally clutching a necklace with her daughter’s face on it accompanied by a necklace that featured angel wings.
Prokes entered the courtroom and made his way to the judge’s chair, he set down his cane; framed by an American flag and the Missouri state flag, he zipped up his robe and asked for everyone to stand as the jury filed into the jury box.
Elizabeth Kogan, the third witness of the day, came from the Missouri Highway Patrol crime lab in Jefferson City. Kogan is a toxicology analyst and was the one to test Catterson’s blood.
Kogan explained how she tests, stores and transports blood within the lab and said her results showed Catterson had a blood alcohol content of .235.
She explained that at .03 and .05 an average person will start to display signs of intoxication, but at a .235 one could expect to see a person heavily intoxicated experiencing impaired vision, impaired balance and coordination, impaired perception and comprehension, poor reaction time, slurred speech and vomiting.
Kogan also said there is a chance that Catterson’s blood alcohol content was higher at the time he began to operate his vehicle if his body had not yet begun attempting to eliminate the alcohol in his system.
Maryville Public Safety Officer John Vaught was next to be called to the stand.
Vaught explained his role in responding to the incident. Vaught drove the ambulance to the hospital after and helped with chest compressions on McCoy on the way from the ambulance into the hospital. Vaught stayed at the hospital, speaking of how once they arrived CPR was performed on McCoy for several minutes, but Dr. John Symonds eventually stopped efforts because they were not successful in reviving her.
Upon leaving the hospital, Vaught returned to the crash site to take photos for evidence. After Rice had permission from the judge to admit the photos for evidence, they were shown blown up and placed on large, white poster boards displayed on easels.
The series of photos displayed the front of Catterson’s truck which had sustained severe damage, the deployed airbags on the inside of the truck, a tire that had fallen off his truck and lay in the snow across the street and tire tracks from the intersection of fourth street and Buchanan that crossed into the wrong lane and then veered into The Palms.
While looking through the photos of the tire tracks, McCoy’sm suitemate Riley Buckman leaned forward placing her arms on the top of the bench in front of her. She rested her head on her arms and began sobbing quietly, bouncing her leg. A woman sitting on the bench in front of her reached back to console her.
McCoy’s mother stood in the aisle to the right of the bench Buckman was sitting on, tears streaming down her face watching as Vaught detailed the route the truck took just moments before crashing into the building and killing her daughter.
Once the photos had been put away, Maryville Public Safety detective Ryan Glidden was called to the stand and the woman who had been consoling Buckman grabbed a tissue and covered her face, attempting to muffle her cries.
Glidden testified that he had requested Catterson be taken to the hospital to have blood drawn to test his blood alcohol content. He also ordered for McCoy’s body to be transported for an autopsy.
Glidden was dismissed after answering several questions and one more witness remained.
Following the last witness, Prokes had the jury deliberate on how to move forward with the trial. Due to the late start Tuesday, Feb. 12, Prokes discussed the possibility of having to come in Saturday for deliberation.
The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Friday with four witnesses left to testify and the remaining evidence to be presented in the Division I Courtroom at the Nodaway County Courthouse.