Pharos-Tribune

February 15, 2013

Jury finds Lewis not guilty in collision

Defense argues noise doesn’t constitute injury to a person.

by Mitchell Kirk
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT — A jury has found Christine Lewis not guilty of failure to stop after an accident resulting in bodily injury.

“Thank you Jesus,” a teary-eyed Lewis said as she embraced friends and family members Thursday night, many of whom were crying as well.

Lewis, a former Galveston city clerk, was accused of hitting 21-year-old Trey McCulley on Sept. 2, 2011, as he was crossing Ind. 218.

During the trial’s final arguments Thursday, Cass County Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Gaumer attempted to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Lewis who knowingly hit McCulley and failed to stop after doing so. McCulley fractured the femur in his left leg.

Gaumer cited testimony from Lisa Verbosky, who was driving behind Lewis the night of the reported collision and said she saw a human figure dive across the road in front of Lewis’s car.

Gaumer referred to Lewis’s own testimony as well, particularly when she admitted to hearing a “thunk.”

“She heard a thunk,” Gaumer said to the jury. “What do most of us do when we hear a thunk?” We stop and look around.”

Lewis’s attorney Kelly Leeman said in his own closing arguments that hearing this noise didn’t necessarily constitute guilt of the crime Lewis was charged with.

“A ‘thunk’ does not mean injury to a person,” Leeman said. “It doesn’t tell you you were in a personal injury accident.”

Leeman went on to argue that the fact that it was night along with the approaching headlights in the opposite lane would have made it difficult to see anyone “diving” across the road, as Verbosky said she saw.

Leeman continued by saying Lewis stopped at the parking lot to pick her daughter up from a Lewis Cass football game, what he called a “reasonable place,” to get out and see if there was any damage connected to the sound she heard.

“Based on what she saw, she didn’t think she was in an accident,” Leeman said.

In earlier proceedings, Lewis said she noticed damage to her car the morning after McCulley broke his femur. After the damage drove her to file a police report, she was made aware of what happened to McCulley and eventually charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in bodily injury.

Gaumer said she didn’t yet know if the prosecutor’s office would appeal the case.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition