Crime

Attorney files for dismissal of charges in fatal crash

BELLEFONTE — Days after successfully getting medical tests suppressed in the case against a Vermont truck driver accused of causing a fatal wreck last year while high on methamphetamine, attorney Brian Manchester filed Tuesday to toss out all criminal charges for lack of evidence.

Manchester is asking Centre County President Judge David E. Grine to dismiss charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI and DUI because the lab results that may have proven Peter Carrara was on methamphetamines during the crash were improperly obtained by state police and ordered suppressed by the judge. Without those test results, none of the criminal charges can stand, Manchester said.

Carrara, 55, of North Clarendon, Vt., is accused of having methamphetamines and amphetamines in his system during a crash on state Route 64 in Walker Township on May 22. Bonnie Weaver, 57, died when her Oldsmobile was run over by Carrara’s tractor-trailer and burst into flames.

Manchester continued his assault on the case by also filing a motion arguing that a second search warrant executed on Carrara’s tractor-trailer also was improperly obtained. Therefore, Manchester said, all evidence gathered from the tractor-trailer, including a “black box” reading that prosecutors say shows Carrara was traveling at 68 mph in a 55 mph zone, must be thrown out as well.

“This warrant is a fishing expedition,” Manchester wrote in his motion.

Centre County Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane, at a hearing last week, conceded errors in drawing up the initial search warrant application.

That application asked for blood test results, and state that a state trooper witnessed blood being drawn for the test when no blood test was ever performed. Carrara actually underwent a urine test, and police were given those results in response to the faulty warrant, the attorneys agreed.

Sloane said last week he was not concerned when the judge ordered the urine tests be suppressed. He said he had new evidence that would allow him to get a proper warrant that would allow him to get those suppressed results back into the case.

Attempts to contact Sloane were not successful Wednesday. District Attorney Michael Madeira did not return a telephone call by the close of the courthouse Wednesday.

“This warrant is illegal and any evidence of an electronic recording device and any data obtained from it is illegal and inadmissible,” Manchester wrote.

The warrant for the truck, Manchester said, lacks any probable cause that a crime happened and it mentions “an alleged blood test in the affidavit of probable cause that did not occur.” With false statements used to obtain the search warrant, its findings should be tossed out, the attorney said.

If Manchester is correct, Carrara would be left facing traffic citations.

Carrara was traveling south, behind Weaver’s car. The right turn signal on Weaver’s car came on to signal a turn onto Snydertown Road, police said.

Carrara conceded he crossed over the solid yellow line and into the oncoming lane in order to pass Weaver and avoid having to slow, police said.

But the Oldsmobile changed direction, cutting back onto the roadway and into the path of the rig in an attempt to turn left onto Hublersburg Road, police said.

The tractor-trailer pushed the car into a culvert and ran over top of it, police said. The car was consumed by fire as passers-by were unable to free Weaver from the car.

Pete Bosak can be reached at 235-3928.

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