The prosecuting and defense attorney entered the Nodaway County Division I Courtroom to an already sitting Alex Catterson Wednesday morning. Circuit Judge Roger Prokes followed shortly after and put on his black robe from behind the judge's bench. Everyone remained standing as the jury entered the room.
It was day three of the State of Missouri v. Alex A Catterson trial. The jury heard from eight witnesses, all law enforcement or medical personnel, and watched several hours of video footage from the scene of the incident and the investigation of Catterson’s DWI.
Prosecuting attorney Robert Rice called witness 17, University Police Officer Jeremy Staples, to testify, the first witness of the day. Rice started the questions off by establishing Staples background, education and involvement at the scene Jan. 7.
Staples said he was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene. Upon arriving, Staples said he observed Samuel Farmer restraining Catterson in the truck. Staples testified he looked to the front of the truck which was in The Palms, then squatted down, peering through the hole in the building and saw three people crowded around a young woman laying on the floor covered in debris and yelling “please help us.”
Staples identified the young woman as Morgan McCoy to the jury.
Staples said he took a step back to grab his medical bag, looked down near the driver's side of the truck and saw a detached human foot. He said he threw the medical bag to someone else who was running to assist inside and took control of Catterson.
Rice grabbed a clear storage bin sitting in the chair behind him, filled with small manila envelopes, all containing flash drives of video evidence from the incident. Rice then played Staple’s body camera footage from that night.
The footage depicted a chaotic scene with ambulances wailing and police lights flashing from every direction. In the video, Staples is seen helping Maryville Public Safety Officer Matthew McMillen put Catterson into McMillen’s police car, then clearing the scene of civilians. Staples then entered The Palms to assist in bringing the gurney for McCoy inside.
Inside the Palms, cries from civilians were heard as McCoy was lifted onto the gurney and wheeled into the back of an ambulance.
The body camera was turned off shortly after the scene was cleared. Defense attorney Samuel Scroggie asked a few questions to Staples about the road conditions.
The next witness to sit behind the stand was University Police Officer Sydney Smith.
Smith said after arriving on scene she began giving McCoy CPR, taking over from one of the civilians. Smith testified she continued giving McCoy CPR until she was lifted onto the gurney.
“I observed an individual with bricks and dust and left leg amputated off,” Smith said. “I crawled through the door and began to give CPR… we were not successful in reviving her.”
Rice reached behind him and grabbed the clear tub, pulling out another small manilla envelope containing video footage from Smith's body camera at the scene.
Rice walked across the room and wheeled a TV over, facing it toward the jury box. McCoy’s loved ones sitting in the gallery crowded to the right of the room to view the TV screen. Somebody in the gallery quietly said “take a deep breath.”
The footage showed Smith’s hands pushing on McCoy’s lifeless chest, breathlessly counting out loud the number of chest compressions.
McCoy’s mother stood toward the far right side of the courtroom wiping her tears, with one friend holding her hand, another draping their arm across her shoulders. Catterson stood close to the jury box, hands stuffed into the pockets of his dark grey dress pants.
After the footage ended, Catterson stared ahead for a while before looking away to return to his seat at the defense table. Smith removed her glasses, rubbed between her eyes, sighed loudly and quickly collected herself to exit the courtroom. McCoy’s loved ones shifted back to their seats sniffling and passing around a few tissues.
Rice called four more witnesses to testify, including Dr. John Symonds, who was working in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital the night of the accident.
Symonds testified what ultimately killed McCoy was cardiac arrest, but there was evidence of blunt force trauma. Factors that contributed to her death included traumatic amputation of the lower left leg, multiple fractures, broken ribs, hemothorax (collection of blood in the space between the chest wall and the lung) and pneumothorax (air leaks into space between your lung and chest wall causing the lung to collapse.)
The final witness of the day, Sarah Kahmann, testified in the early afternoon. Kahmann was working as an officer for Maryville Public Safety the night of the incident.
Rice established Kahmann’s background, education, involvement and then shifted to the investigation of Catterson’s DWI in the following hours of the early morning.
Rice began showing the jury two hours of video footage from Kahmann’s body camera.
Kahmann spent hours Jan. 7 with Catterson attempting to take breathalyzer and blood alcohol level tests.
Shortly after arriving at the Nodaway County jail, Catterson asks about McCoy. Catterson also asks for his chew and to be let out of his handcuffs. He was moved from the holding room to another room where he waited for a breathalyzer test.
Kahmann set the body camera on the opposite side of the room and sat at a desk across from Catterson where they spent the next 15 minutes talking, waiting to take the breathalyzer test.
A 15-minute waiting period is required before administering a breathalyzer test to ensure nothing is put into the testee's mouth, possibly hindering the results.
While waiting Catterson asked for his chapstick and inquired about his one phone call. He also asked about McCoy several times.
“If this f------ girl isn’t f------ OK, I’m worried right now. I’m more worried about that girl than I am me,” Catterson said.
Catterson then took his first breathalyzer test of the night. Kahmann testified that Catterson took a breathalyzer test at the Nodaway County Jail but the machine failed.
Kahmann then took Catterson to SSM St. Francis Hospital to have his blood drawn for a blood alcohol level test.
“I watched my mom get two DWIs when I was 8 and said I would never be like that. Then my truck f----- up and here I am,” Catterson said while sitting in the emergency room having two vials of blood drawn.
In the courtroom, Catterson sat on the front bench next to Scroggie with his head down, elbows on knees, hands clasped together and shaking both legs.
Kahmann then drove Catterson to the Maryville Public Safety office to take another breathalyzer test. Catterson had to wait another 15 minutes before taking his second breathalyzer test. Another officer entered the office to get Catterson’s written consent to take the event data recorder from Catterson’s truck, Catterson agreed.
Catterson told Kahmann about his dog, asked to put on chapstick again and talked about drag racing. He also asked about McCoy.
“If she is not OK, I want out of jail to go to her funeral and apologize to her family,” Catterson said. “She lost her foot, right? Can I give her my foot?”
Catterson took his second breathalyzer test, the footage came to an end shortly after. The courtroom remained still for a few eerie seconds, Scroggie pushed up his glasses to wipe his eyes.
The judge called a recess until 9 a.m. Thursday.