Pharmacist says Weisenberg was not under the influence
July 30, 2011
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Santa Maria pharmacist Neemah Yamin-Esfandiary testified Thursday that Kaylee Weisenberg, who is accused of killing California Highway Patrol Officer Bret Oswald in a June 27, 2010, crash on South River Road outside of Paso Robles, was not under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the accident.
Yamin-Esfandiary, a clinical pharmacist at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, refuted prior testimony of two toxicologists serving as expert witnesses for the prosecution. The toxicologists, one from Pennsylvania and one from Clovis, said Weisenberg, 23, tested positive for methamphetamine the evening after the crash.
“I believe that any form of intoxication stemmed from the drug is simply theoretical,” Yamin-Esfandiary said.
Yamin-Esfandiary’s testimony focused on the Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) performed on Weisenberg at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton following the crash. Weisenberg passed the DRE, and Yaminesfandarry said the conclusion of the report should hold.
“There would have been additional signs that could indicate that the downside of methamphetamine was evident,” Yamin-Esfandiary said. “I did not see any of those in the report, so my conclusion based on that is that there were no signs of intoxication.”
The administrator of the DRE, CHP Officer David Reed, testified Monday for the prosecution saying that Weisenberg showed no signs of intoxication. In speaking with Cal Coast News, however, the prosecution discounted its own witness.
“[Reed] conducted a drug recognition exam under conditions that were chaotic,” co-prosecutor Steve Wagner said. “His ultimate conclusion [was that Weisenberg was sober], but that’s not synonymous with not being under the influence while driving on South River Road.”
During cross-examination of Yamin-Esfandiary, Deputy District Attorney Lee Cunningham said there were indications that Weisenberg was on the downside of methampetamine that did not appear in the DRE. Cunningham cited reports from the hospital that Weisenberg was lethargic with a blank stare and droopy eyes. But, Yamin-Esfandiary dismissed those signs as circumstantial evidence, saying that they could have been the result of lack of sleep and physical and emotional distress from the crash.
Earlier in the day, accident reconstructionist and retired LAPD collision investigator Mallie Donahoe testified that Weisenberg was driving approximately 63 mph before breaking when the accident occurred.
Donahoe’s conclusion was well below the CHP’s determined speed of 80 mph. The large gap in calculations can be attributed to disagreement over the existence of yaw marks, or swerving tire marks, at the scene of the crash. Donahoe said there was no evidence of yaw marks while the CHP said there was.
Likewise, Donahoe testified that Weisenberg’s vehicle had to have been traveling under 50 mph at point of impact. Donahoe said that a pedestrian would fly up and over the windshield if the car were driving faster than 50 mph. Oswald’s body landed on the windshield.
Weisenberg has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony and driving under the influence causing great bodily injury.
The trial resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m. before Judge John Trice. Monday afternoon the jury will take a trip to the scene of the accident and walk the path of Weisenberg’s vehicle. The road will be closed to the public.