A bartender told a Talbot County Circuit Court jury today that Kevin Cooper was served nine 12-ounce beers last Dec. 24 before he crashed his car, killing five members of a Montgomery County family.
But a second witness, who said she stopped to help Cooper after the accident, said that Cooper showed no signs of being intoxicated.
According to Maryland State Police, Cooper, a 26-year-old carpenter from Glen Burnie, drove his car head-on into a Volkswagen Rabbit driven by Martha Proctor on Rte. 27 near Mount Airy in Carroll County. Three of Proctor's grandchildren and two of Proctor's sons were killed.
Proctor and two daughters were injured.
Cooper is charged with a variety of offenses, including driving while under the influence, homicide by automobile while intoxicated and automobile manslaughter.
Deborah Glacken, the bartender and the first witness called by Carroll County State's Attorney Thomas Hickman, testified that she served Cooper the nine beers at a Christmas Eve party at the Avalon Restaurant in Frederick.
Under questioning by one of Cooper's lawyers, George Pappas, Glacken said she has been a bartender for eight years and can easily spot the symptoms of drunkenness.
"In my opinion, Cooper was not drunk when he left the Avalon," Glacken testified.
Donna Waltz, another prosecution witness, told the jury she arrived at the scene of the accident in time to see the engine of Cooper's car burst into flames.
"I yanked on the car door and finally got it opened," Waltz said. "I told him, 'Please push, help me get you out of your car. Your car is on fire . . . .' "
"He told me, 'Please leave me and help the people in the other car,' " Waltz told the jury.
Waltz, who said she held Cooper in her arms about 30 minutes while they waited for medical help, said she smelled no alcohol on his breath, that he acted normally, had clear speech and showed no signs of being intoxicated.
Maryland State Trooper Kevin Utz, who said he also reached the scene shortly after the accident, testified that Cooper was quiet and that there was a "strong smell of alcohol" on Cooper's breath.
In his opening statement, Hickman said he will prove Cooper was intoxicated, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road when the accident occurred.
He said Cooper's blood alcohol level immediately after the accident was .12.
Under Maryland law, a person with a reading of .13 is assumed to be intoxicated.
Pappas and Christopher D. Ohly, Cooper's attorneys, said that Cooper was not drunk or driving at an excessive speed at the time of the accident.
Pappas said that Cooper swerved from his lane just before the accident and was attempting to return to his proper lane when Martha Proctor drove her car into his lane.