Testimony varies from witness' earlier account

June 20, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A prosecution witness in the Blake Mostrong vehicular manslaughter trial testified Tuesday he drove Mostrong's van from the scene after it crashed into a golf cart Oct. 7.

Kristoffer Purdy, 18, of El Centro, under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Wayne Robinson, said after the crash he and Mostrong drove away in the van together.

Killed in the accident was 17-year-old Alpine resident Michelle Marie Grady.

The prosecution is asking the jury to find Mostrong guilty of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and hit and run.

Purdy, age 17 at the time of the accident, said after the collision he and the other passengers in the van got out while Mostrong remained in the van.


He testified the other passengers ran from the scene.

Purdy said he went to the driver's side of the van where he and Mostrong, now 21, who Purdy testified had been driving the van at the time of the collision, changed seats.

Purdy said he drove the van, with Mostrong in the passenger seat, away from the accident site on Wheeler Road toward Huff Road.

"Did you go back to the scene?" Robinson asked.

"No," Purdy responded.

Robinson asked if he had heard a girl crying for help.

Purdy responded he did not.

However, during his testimony Tuesday, Purdy said moments before the crash — when the van was maybe 10 feet from whatever it struck — he saw at least one person.

He described seeing shadows and "maybe" a person off to the side.

Robinson at least three times indicated he had documents from an interview the California Highway Patrol with Purdy in which Purdy stated he saw three people before the accident.

Robinson showed Purdy the documents.

Purdy responded, "By the time I made my statement I knew there were three people standing there. I had found out."

Purdy testified he did not recall seeing lights on the object the van struck.

Robinson indicated at some point prior to the trial Purdy had said he saw lights ahead of the van before the collision.

Purdy responded, "I recall saying there was a light off to the side of the vehicle, but not on the vehicle itself."

Whether the golf cart had its lights on at the time of the accident could prove a key point in the case.

The prosecution has argued the golf cart had its lights on and on Monday another witness in the van, Blake Reed of El Centro, testified he saw lights ahead of the van before the accident.

The defense has argued the golf cart was parked on the wrong side of the road and in the way of traffic without its lights on, making it impossible to see.

Other witnesses in the van, Ismael Castillo and Jason Jimenez, both of El Centro, said they did not recall seeing lights ahead on Wheeler Road.

Purdy further testified that right before the accident he "probably" yelled something to Mostrong that they were about to hit an object. Purdy said he remembers at least one other person was yelling in the van at the time.

Robinson asked Purdy if he and Mostrong, in driving away from the accident scene, talked about what had happened.

Purdy said they did, adding they said they thought they had hit someone.

"Did you think about going back?" Robinson asked.

"Yeah, but by that time the van had a flat tire," Purdy answered.

Purdy testified when the van stopped because of the flat tire, Mostrong tried to change the tire but was unable to do so because the jack was broken.

Purdy said while Mostrong was trying to change the tire, Purdy started to walk away because he was afraid.

He said he "just didn't want to be there."

Robinson asked if he went for help.

Purdy said, "Not really."

He added he just wanted to leave.

Testimony was set to continue at 9:30 today in the County Courthouse in El Centro.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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