Witness: Mostrong, others were on ‘joyride'

June 14, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A witness in the Blake Mostrong vehicular manslaughter trial Wednesday described how he and four others went for a "joyride" in Mostrong's van late on Oct. 7 because the party they were at had become boring.

The witness, Jason Jimenez, age 20 at the time of the accident, said Mostrong was driving the van when the crash occurred.

Jimenez, an El Centro resident, was called to the stand by Deputy District Attorney Wayne Robinson in the fourth day of the trial.

Along with vehicular manslaughter, the District Attorney's Office is asking that the jury convict Mostrong, 20, of driving under the influence and hit and run in the Oct. 7 death of Alpine resident Michelle Marie Grady, 17.


Jimenez testified he had known Mostrong since they attended high school together.

Jimenez said he attended a "keg" party Oct. 7 in the desert and at one point during the party he joined four others in a van to go for a "joyride."

"Did you have fun?" Robinson asked.

"What's fun?" Jimenez responded, stating he and the others chose to go for the ride because the party had become boring.

Robinson asked Jimenez if anything happened while they were in the van.

Jimenez said they were involved in an accident.

"Who was driving?" Robinson asked.

Jimenez responded that Mostrong was driving.

Jimenez said he had not seen Mostrong drinking or using marijuana that night. He said no one was drinking or using drugs while they were riding in the van.

He said he thought the defendant was driving at a speed of about 50 mph at the time and that he was driving "pretty normal for me."

Robinson asked, "No one was complaining about his driving?"

"No," Jimenez responded.

Jimenez testified at some point the van did hit something, but those inside did not know what it hit. He said after the van struck something, the van stopped.

"What did you do?" Robinson asked.

"It was kind of chaotic," Jimenez responded.

"Did everyone get out of the van?" Robinson asked.

"Yes," Jimenez answered.

Robinson asked Jimenez if there was any conversation after the crash. Jimenez responded if there was he didn't hear anything.

Jimenez said after the crash it was dark and dusty and those in the van were trying to figure out "where they were at."

Jimenez further said he couldn't remember if there was any screaming after the crash. He said he did not see if the driver of the van got back into the vehicle, but the van was driven in some direction away from the scene.

He testified he walked about 70 feet from the van off the dirt road, and then started to walk back toward the only lights he could see — the lights of the cities east of his location.

Jimenez said he eventually reached the keg party.

"Why didn't you walk back down the road?" Robinson asked.

Jimenez responded he "couldn't find the road."

Jimenez further testified that when he reached the party, sheriff's deputies arrived and those at the party scattered. He said he went to a second party later that night.

Robinson asked Jimenez if when he was contacted by the California Highway Patrol he denied being in the van. Jimenez said he never denied it.

Robinson asked to play a tape of an interview Jimenez did with Highway Patrol investigators.

Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras permitted the playing of the tape.

During the taped interview Jimenez spoke of not seeing Mostrong until late in the party. He did not say during the portion of the tape played in court whether he had been a passenger in Mostrong's van.

However, Robinson said there is a portion at the end of the tape where Highway Patrol investigators tell Jimenez they have information he was in the van. Robinson said at that point Jimenez confirms he was in the van when the crash occurred.

Defense attorney Robert Espinosa of El Centro asked Jimenez if he had ever denied he was in the van when questioned by the Highway Patrol.

Jimenez said he never denied that, adding, "he never asked that."

Espinosa asked if Mostrong was driving recklessly.

"No," Jimenez responded.

Espinosa asked if anyone was screaming, ‘Let me out of here.'

Jimenez responded, "No."

"Was there anything unsafe about the way he was driving?" Espinosa asked.

"No," Jimenez said.

Jimenez said he never saw what the van struck. He said he never saw any lights on the road other than the van's headlights.

It is alleged Mostrong hit a golf cart with his van. After the accident, Jimenez said, the only light he saw was one of the headlights of the van. The other van headlight was broken after the accident.

Robinson asked if Jimenez had contacted the Highway Patrol after the accident or if the Highway Patrol had to seek him out.

Jimenez responded he had not contacted the Highway Patrol.

Espinosa asked if Jimenez thought he violated any laws by not contacting authorities.

Jimenez responded, "No."

Robinson then asked, "You had no responsibility to contact the Highway Patrol? Is that your testimony. You didn't feel any moral obligation?"

Espinosa objected and Contreras sustained the objection. The comment by Robinson was stricken from the record.

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