UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) - The alleged driver in a high speed chase that killed a Prince George's County police officer went to trial on Monday and continues Wednesday.
Officer Adrian Morris died in August of 2012 when he lost control of his cruiser and crashed. It happened while he was chasing two men he believed to be gas station purse snatchers.
During the chase, Morris lost control of his cruiser, and his car spun and flipped, killing Morris.
Four days later, police arrested 23-year-old Kevon Neal, who was reportedly driving the car Morris was chasing. Neal has denied the accusations and insisted that he should not be blamed for Morris' death.
Now a year and a half later, he is on trial for vehicular manslaughter. In opening arguments on Monday, a prosecutor declared “Morris was killed by Kevon Neal.”
Morris’ partner, who survived the wreck, testified that Neal was driving recklessly at 100 miles per hour on I-95 South, causing a domino effect of swerving and braking cars, which sent their police car careening off the road.
Neal’s defense attorney countered by telling jurors that there is no proof Neal was driving the pursued car. She calls Morris’ crash a tragic accident.
State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks admits the whole situation is a challenging case, but believes it can be won:
"We believe we have the evidence to find him guilty of manslaughter. And really a person who commits an act like this and causes the death of any person...we pursue."
One man who has no doubt was the first witness today. West Laurel Gas station owner Tom Martins called the police last August.
His security camera caught the man believed to be Neal, just before accomplice Kenneth Mitchell tried to get into their white SUV. Then Martins actually chased the men in the stolen Acura on foot.
"He was one of the nicest police officers that have ever been in my station," he said of Morris.
Closing arguments took place on Wednesday, and though the jury has gone home for the night, they will resume in the morning with 30 days of testimony ahead. At the heart of the testimony is a legal question: Was Neal at the wheel of the car and can he be blamed for Morris’ death?
Prosecutors say yes, and one told the jury today that there is no doubt the police officer would be alive today if it were not for the actions of Mr. Neil and his reckless driving.
However, the defense countered with the argument that it was simply a tragic accident and the police officer was far behind his car and the vehicles never touched – the only impact of the crash was the police officer hitting a guard rail and landing on the ground.