Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Evidence battle continues in Spellman case

By Aimee Kuvadia

The beer is in. 

A judge has ruled that potentially incriminating items, including beer cans police say they found in ex-detective Kevin Spellman’s car after it fatally struck 66-year-old Drane Nikac on Oct. 30, 2009, will be admitted into evidence at his criminal trial.

If Mr. Spellman is convicted of his most serious charge — aggravated vehicular homicide — he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The judge will also allow a “spontaneous statement” police said Mr. Spellman made at the scene, according to an unofficial transcript of the Oct. 3 hearings provided by Rosemarie Arnold, who is representing the Nikac family in a separate civil suit. The judge ruled that Mr. Spellman’s statement — “I didn’t see that dude. He came out of nowhere. I hit him” — was an “excited utterance” made spontaneously, without time for reflection. He also ruled that the search was legal. 

Pretrial motions will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 10. 

The two sides will likely argue over whether the disciplinary records of police witnesses that the defense plans to call can be included for rebuttal purposes, according to Ms. Arnold.

Also at issue will be whether the prosecution can introduce evidence that Mr. Spellman is an alcoholic by revealing two prior incidents in which Mr. Spellman allegedly drove intoxicated. 

Mr. Spellman refused a Breathalyzer test on the scene of the 2009 accident, but after five hours his blood-alcohol content was recorded at 0.21. The District Attorney’s Office is preparing for the defense to call an expert who will testify that this BAC reading was unreliable because that reading would have meant it reached 0.3 at the time of the accident — a number so high that Mr. Spellman would have been on the floor, according to Ms. Arnold. 

Evidence that Mr. Spellman is an alcoholic could then be used to refute that, since alcoholics can function on and handle alcohol differently than others.  

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