he final defense witness at the trial of Kevin Cooper, accused of drunk driving in the deaths of five members of a Montgomery County family last Christmas Eve, testified today he thinks Cooper had "incredibly good" control of his car at the time of the crash.
The witness, Bruce E. Enz, vice president of the Institute for Safety Analysis in Rockville, told the Talbot County Circuit Court jury he believes that Martha Proctor, driver of the car Cooper's car struck, "made an unfortunate decision" to steer her car to the left in an attempt to avoid the collision. "Generally it is accepted you do not turn into another person's lane," he said. Proctor had testified she turned her car in an effort to avoid a collision when she saw Cooper's car coming toward her in her lane.
Enz's testimony challenged the view of three accident reconstruction experts who testified last week for the prosecution.
The Talbot County Circuit Court jury is expected to begin its deliberations Wednesday in the case of Cooper, a 26-year-old Glen Burnie carpenter charged with five counts of manslaughter by automobile, five of homicide by automobile while intoxicated, reckless driving, failure to keep right of the center line and driving while intoxicated. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
The accident occurred on Rte. 27 near Mount Airy in Carroll County, killing Proctor's two sons, aged 14 and 23, and three grandchildren, aged 5 weeks, 19 months and 3 years.
A bartender testified for the prosecution that she served Cooper nine 12-ounce beers at a Christmas party before the crash; Cooper testified he drank seven beers in the 3 1/2 hours before the crash but did not feel drunk and does not believe he is guilty as charged.