A passing driver warned a CHP officer that it was hard to see him as he was texting while standing along the road where he would be killed in a crash moments later, according to testimony Monday in the trial of the Paso Robles woman accused of causing the fatal wreck.
Anna Aldaco testified in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that she saw Officer Brett Oswald standing in front of his patrol car before the crash that killed him June 27, 2010, along South River Road south of Paso Robles.
Where Oswald was standing at the time of the crash has been at issue in the trial of Kaylee Ann Weisenberg, 23, who is accused of second-degree murder.
Weisenberg is accused of causing the fatal crash that occurred after Aldaco drove by. Aldaco was the final witness to take the stand before lawyers rested their cases in the trial that began July 18.
The jury visited the crash site Monday afternoon and is expected to hear closing arguments Wednesday in Judge John Trice’s courtroom.
Weisenberg, who was 22 at the time of the crash, has pleaded not guilty to four charges that also include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony and driving under the influence causing great bodily injury.
Defense attorney Thomas McCormick called Aldaco to the stand.
Aldaco testified that Oswald appeared to be text messaging on his cellphone and was standing in front of his patrol car, which jutted partly into South River Road, when she approached.
“I told him to be careful,” Aldaco said.
Aldaco testified that she was driving north and passed Oswald on the opposite side of the road — just as evidence has shown that Weisenberg did before she allegedly crossed over the double yellow lines.
Waiting for a tow truck, Oswald had positioned his patrol car just behind an abandoned vehicle that was partially in the roadway on southbound South River Road, according to the CHP.
Aldaco testified that she passed a tow truck about a mile from the area where she’d seen Oswald, which testimony has shown arrived at the crash scene soon after it occurred.
But during cross-examination by San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner, Aldaco said she had time to brake and stop to speak with Oswald.
Prosecutors have sought to show that Weisenberg was driving recklessly and that her actions behind the wheel were negligent.
Aldaco also testified that she saw orange cones placed in the roadway to warn of the abandoned vehicle that Oswald was dealing with.
Prior to Aldaco taking the stand, traffic investigation experts for the prosecution and defense continued their disagreements over how fast Weisenberg might have been driving prior to the wreck.
CHP investigator Scott H. Peterson testified that taking into consideration Weisenberg’s skid marks, the impact with Oswald and his patrol car and the distance it took her to stop led to his estimation that she was driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone.
But Mallie Donohoe, an expert witness hired by the defense, said he doesn’t believe the tires locked in certain areas where Peterson believes skid marks show they did. Donohoe estimated Weisenberg’s speed at 63 or 64 mph.
Both speeds are estimations of Weisenberg’s velocity before she started braking.