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July 24, 2013

Court Room Diary: People vs. Robert Allen Barnhart, Day 3

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Written by: Bonnie Wiedel
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The defense called one more witness at the beginning of Day Three of the trial of Robert Barnhart, Case Number 11WF2614.

Mr. Barnhart is accused of two counts of felony Assault With a Deadly Weapon and one count of misdemeanor Battery, stemming from what is being characterized as a road rage incident following a traffic accident in Los Alamitos in November 2011.

Public defender Mike Perez began the day by calling Stacy Frezza to give her testimony on what occurred that day. From her position on the Ralph’s parking lot approximately 30-40 yards from Ball Road she heard a “horn continuously honk as if it was stuck.” She witnessed a truck overtaking a smaller car and the truck driver was looking towards the right, at the smaller car. According to her testimony, the Dodge truck swerved towards the smaller vehicle once and missed, then swerved towards it again. Her vision of the two vehicles was blocked at this point but she heard glass and metal from a crash. Ms. Frezza stated that the next time she saw the black vehicle it was moving slowly towards the Union 76 station on the wrong side of the road. She witnessed the Dodge truck pull a U-turn towards the intersection and then heard the final crash.

The Defense had no further witnesses after Stacy Frezza.

DDA Bracic called Investigator Wesley Vandriver as a rebuttal witness. Mr. Vandriver is a DA investigator in accident recontruction, specifically the vehicular manslaughter unit. He is 12 years ACTAR, Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction, accredited. Mr. Vandiver specializes in Event Data Recorder (EDR) and Crash Data Retrieval (CDR).

When asked by the DDA about the primary function of the EDR, or as it was referred to, the “black box,” Mr. Vandriver stated that it was the decision-maker that decides whether the airbags should deploy or seat belts lock. According to him, it is attached to the “central nervous system” of the car and monitors all the data. The secondary function of the “black box” is to capture and record data of collisions once they past a certain threshold.

Mr. Vandriver examined the evidence gathered by Mr. Gaynor as well as collecting the same data. However, his conclusion after viewing it differed from that of Mr. Gaynor. He came to the conclusion that neither the first nor the last collisions were what were recorded. When the data collected was combined with the other evidence such as witness reports, he concluded that the collision on Ball Road was the collision that was recorded in the “black box.”

Mr. Vandriver also concluded that the damage to the front right headlight of the Dodge truck was most likely caused by hitting the spare tire on the Isuzu Rodeo.

After Mr. Vandriver’s testimony came the closing arguements.

DDA Bracic said that she can “tell you what the evidence is but you drive the bus.” She then reminded everyone of the key points of the case, the three collisions and how they were supported by evidence. She reminded the jury that the defendant had a “history of this kind of rage.”

Public defender Mike Perez restated that Mr. Ochoa was already breaking the law before he even met Mr. Barnhart, and that after the first collision and Mr. Ochoa fled, which was a violation of vehicle Code 20002(a). Mr. Barnhart then followed to perform a Citizen’s Arrest, honking his horn to warn people that they were approaching.

The jury will begin deliberations tomorrow, Thursday, July 24, after receiving instructions from the judge.

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About the Author

Bonnie Wiedel
Bonnie Wiedel was born and raised in Southern California. She goes to college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is studying biology. She is earning college credit while working at the Orange County Breeze Newspaper as an intern.l




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