Miss. high court hears arguments in DUI crash
Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Krystal Marie Teston was not on drugs at the time of a 2004 traffic accident that killed three Mississippi College students and injured two others, her attorneys told the Mississippi Supreme Court on Monday.
Teston was convicted of four counts of felony DUI in 2007 in Harrison County. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison with 30 years suspended.
Teston was driving one vehicle, and those killed or injured were in another vehicle on Interstate 10 in Biloxi on Sept. 10, 2004. According to testimony during her trial, Teston pulled from the left lane to the center lane into the path of the other vehicle. The other vehicle swerved to avoid her, then crashed.
Defense attorney Tim Holleman told justices Monday that an experienced DUI enforcement officer testified that Teston did not appear impaired when he arrived at the scene.
Holleman said the officer testified that when he returned to Teston an hour later her speech was slurred and she appeared confused. The officer testified the woman told him she had taken the pills.
Teston’s attorneys contended she took pain medication after the accident to calm her nerves.
Prosecutors argued Teston was already high on the drugs and that’s what caused the accident.
Defense attorneys said Teston was so distraught because of the crash that she took the pain medication Lorcet, or hydrocodone, after the accident to calm her nerves. That’s why, Holleman said, the medication was in her blood system when checked by authorities three hours later.
Holleman argued inaccurate testimony led to the conviction. Holleman said testimony by the state’s expert that Teston took the drug before the accident was not based on viable scientific data.
“There’s no evidence that she had anything in her system at the time of the accident,” Holleman said.
Assistant Attorney General John Henry Jr. said the state’s expert believed that because the drug showed up three hours later then she would have registered a higher level had she been tested at the scene.
Henry said Teston also did not tell investigators she was involved in the accident. Had she done so, Henry said officers would have given her a blood test sooner and the courts would have had a better indication of the drugs she ingested and when.
Henry said that had Teston testified at the trial, the issue could have been cleared up but she did not.
Killed were: Lindsay Miller; her boyfriend Maksim Sisoev, an exchange student from Uzbekistan; and Elizabeth Finch, a native of Clinton, where the college is based. Two others in the car were injured in the accident and recovered.