The defense attorney for Kevin Cooper told a jury today that the government's evidence is too weak to prove Cooper was drunk or negligent when his car collided with another auto last Christmas Eve, killing five members of a Montgomery County family.
Attorney D. Christopher Ohly, in his closing argument in the 13-day-old trial, told the Talbot County Circuit Court jury that Maryland "law clearly states" that blood alcohol concentration "must be .13 at the time of testing" for a determination of drunkenness.
"Kevin Cooper's level was .12 when he was tested." The test was administered an hour and 25 minutes after the collision.
Carroll County State's Attorney Thomas Hickman told the jury Cooper "lied about how much beer he drank" before the accident.
"He didn't have seven beers, he had to have nine--a little more than three quarts," Hickman told the jury as he addressed the question of the legal level of intoxication and discussed scientific testimony.
Jury deliberation is scheduled to begin this morning. Cooper, a 26-year-old carpenter from Glen Burnie, is charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, failure to keep to the right, homicide by automobile while intoxicated, and automobile manslaughter.
On the question of gross negligence, Ohly said that his client's car was "totally under control" until Cooper rounded a curve and was blinded by the glare of the sun.
Ohly said Cooper was driving 50 miles an hour at the time of the crash on Rte. 27 near Mount Airy in Carroll County and that the state used "guesses and estimates" in an effort to prove he was traveling faster.
Prosecutor Hickman argued that if Cooper became tired, as he testified," he "should have pulled over and taken a nap." "He made a real bad decision to continue driving and that cost five people their lives," Hickman declared.