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Crash expert challenges CHP estimate of excessive speed in officer's death

An accident reconstruction expert testified Thursday that a Paso Robles woman accused of hitting and killing a CHP officer with her car last year was driving more than 15 miles per hour slower than CHP investigators estimated.

Retired Los Angeles Police Department accident investigator Mallie Donohoe testified for the defense in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that he believed Kaylee Ann Weisenberg was driving about 63 or 64 mph before she started braking June 27, 2010.

Weisenberg, 23, has pleaded not guilty to four charges, including second-degree murder, in the wreck that killed 20-year CHP veteran Brett Oswald.

Donohoe based his estimate on information that included CHP photos of the crash on South River Road and a recent visit to the location.

According to the CHP’s analysis of the data, Weisenberg was traveling about 80 mph in a 55 mph zone on South River Road.

Prosecution experts have said the skid marks on the road show that Weisenberg’s tires swerved and a portion of them lifted off the ground as the crash took place. Those “yaw marks” helped them come to their speed conclusions.

But Donohoe testified the car’s tires maintained contact with the roadway as she applied her brakes.

“It’s my opinion that no yaw marks were present at the accident scene,” Donohoe said.

Donohoe also testified that a car traveling at 45 miles an hour or more would cause a person standing on the road to fly over the windshield on impact.

Oswald’s body smashed into the windshield, though the prosecution has indicated he may have jumped before impact.

In the afternoon, defense expert Neemah Yamin-Esfandiary, a Santa Maria-based pharmacist, testified that it’s hard to prove that Weisenberg was under the influence of methamphetamine based on the information he’s reviewed.

That included a CHP field sobriety test that Weisenberg passed shortly after the wreck.

“Any form of intoxication that stemmed from (meth) is theoretical and minimal at that,” Yamin-Esfandiary said. But prosecutor Lee Cunningham fired off a series of questions on cross-examination seeking to discredit Yamin-Esfandiary, eliciting information about his resume that didn’t include any forensic toxicology experience.

Forensic toxicologist Bill Posey testified for the prosecution this week that he examined Weisenberg’s blood, which showed a level of 0.44 milligrams per liter of methamphetamine. Posey testified 0.20 milligrams per liter of the drug typically indicates somebody is under the influence.

The trial resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m. in Judge John Trice’s court.

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