Golf cart lights out for awhile, witness says during Mostrong trial

June 12, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The lights on the golf cart Michelle Marie Grady of Alpine was standing by the night she was killed by a van driven by Blake Mostrong were out for an undetermined period of time, according to testimony in Superior Court on Monday.

That information came in testimony during the second day of the vehicular manslaughter trial of 20-year-old Mostrong, an El Centro resident. The trial is being staged in the County Courthouse in El Centro.

The District Attorney's Office also is asking the jury to find Mostrong guilty of hit and run and driving under the influence.

During questioning by Mostrong's attorney, Robert Espinosa of El Centro, Charlotte Lang — a friend of Michelle's with her the night she was killed Oct. 7 — said the lights had been off before the crash.


However, Charlotte, 16, a San Diego-area resident, also said at the time of the crash the lights of the golf cart were on.

Charlotte had been standing near Michelle and the golf cart when Mostrong's van struck the cart, Michelle and friend Eric Welter. Charlotte testified she jumped out of the way and escaped injury.

Testimony has indicated the cart was stopped about 13 feet from the edge of Wheeler Road.

The defense has contended the lights on the golf cart were not on and Mostrong was driving on a dark stretch of road when the accident occurred.

At the end of his questioning Monday, Espinosa attempted to wrap up Charlotte's description of the events.

"You stayed in the middle of the road," he told her. "When you saw a vehicle coming, you stayed in the middle of the road because you thought it was someone else."

Deputy District Attorney Wayne Robinson questioned Charlotte about the issue of the lights being off.

"How long were the lights out?" Robinson asked,

"I don't recall," Charlotte responded.

Robinson pointed out that a friend of the group named Doug Fulsom saw the stranded golf cart and went to get gas. He asked Charlotte if the lights were on after Fulsom left.

Charlotte responded she didn't recall.

Robinson then asked, "How do you know the lights were on at the time of the collision?"

She answered, "I saw them."

Espinosa then pointed out she told the prosecutor she didn't know how long the lights were out.

"Are you sure the lights were on?" Espinosa asked her.

"Yes," she responded.

The prosecution then called 20-year-old Welter, a San Diego-area resident, to the stand.

Before he could begin testimony, Espinosa — in a statement that was stricken from the record — told Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras that Welter should be made aware his statements could lead to felony proceedings against him.

Contreras cleared the jury from the courtroom and admonished Espinosa about making such comments before the jury.

Contreras then asked Robinson if based on Welter's testimony he planned to prosecute Welter. Robinson said there were no such plans.

Robinson added Espinosa was trying to influence the witness.

Contreras then allowed the jury to return and for Robinson to start questioning Welter.

Welter said while camped in the western desert near Wheeler Road, Michelle and Charlotte took his golf cart for a ride.

At some point he went after the two. He stated he had a flashlight on his motorcycle that was tapped to the front fender and the light was on as he went for Michelle and Charlotte.

Welter testified he could see the golf cart's lights in the distance.

Robinson asked Welter whether when he reached the golf cart he turned off the cart's lights.

"Yes," Welter answered, adding he didn't want to waste the battery.

Robinson then asked if he turned the lights on again at some point.

Welter answered, "Yes. Doug told me to turn them on."

Welter then testified he and Michelle were struck by a Volkswagen van at some point after Fulsom left to get gas.

"Did it ever appear to you to slow down?" Robinson asked.

"No, it was like a train," Welter responded.

Welter testified the van stopped about a 100 yards away from the collision and he heard voices coming from the van.

He said he heard one person say, ‘Bro, you just took some people out.'

Welter testified he then heard what he thought was a van sliding door close and the van being driven away. No one came to the aid of the injured.

Espinosa then asked how many drinks Welter had during the course of Oct. 7.

Welter responded he drank a beer when he was in Yuma earlier in the day, had a mixed-drink while at a truck stop on his way with Fulsom to the Superstition Mountains and had one more beer at the camp site.

"You told us the golf cart lights were off at some point. Did you turn off the lights?" Espinosa asked.

"I believe so," Welter answered.

Welter continued, "They were only off for a little bit."

Espinosa then pointed out that Welter had turned off the lights because he was concerned about the battery. Welter said he didn't want to push the golf cart back to camp.

"Did you know the condition of the battery?" Espinosa asked.

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