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Fatal hit-and-run trial continues Thursday

Fowler accused in negligent death of Garrett Martin, 12

Posted: March 20, 2013 - 8:01pm
Michael Fowler
Michael Fowler

The negligent homicide trial of Michael Fowler, accused in the hit-and-run that killed a Wooster boy operating an ATV, recessed Wednesday after lengthy testimony from more than a dozen witnesses.

Garrett Martin, 12, was killed Aug. 15 of last year when the 4-wheeler he was driving on Burgess Lane was struck by a pickup truck driven by Fowler, 28, according to authorities.

Official testimony given Wednesday indicated Fowler was intoxicated.Closing arguments are left in the trial, set to convene again at 9 a.m. Thursday with Judge Charles Clawson presiding.

Jury deliberation will follow.

The first witnesses introduced Wednesday were Matthew Ballard and Zachary Koontz, who both testified they were in Fowler's vehicle before and after the incident, and were riding with Fowler when he fled the scene at Burgess Lane.

Ballard appeared in court in shackles because he is serving a sentence on an unrelated sexual assault charge.

Ballard told jurors he was not in custody at the time of the incident because space was not available in Faulkner County jail.

Ballard and Koontz both testified they and Fowler were drinking and swimming at the Cadron Creek in Faulkner County before the incident on Aug. 15.

A state crime lab toxicologist gave a blood alcohol concentration reading of 0.16 for Fowler from blood drawn about three hours after the wreck that killed Martin.

Police photos taken inside the cab of Fowler's vehicle and behind the bench seat show empty and partially empty alcohol containers.

Koontz and Ballard testified they tried to get Fowler to stop the vehicle after he hit the ATV and Martin.

According to the two witnesses, Fowler told them to tell others damage to his vehicle was caused by hitting a deer.

The two testified Fowler kept driving despite being threatened with a knife, but that Fowler later stopped on a back road and cut deployed airbags out of the truck.

Chief Investigator Chad Wooley later testified a seat belt was cut from the truck and tied to hold down the truck's hood.

When Fowler stopped the vehicle, Ballard stayed behind to be picked up by his brother, and Koontz got in the vehicle again, according to Koontz, to be taken to receive medical attention due to an injury from the accident.

Neither called authorities after the incident, according to testimony.Fowler was stopped by Morrilton police and taken into custody along with Koontz.

Ballard was also brought in for questioning, according to court testimony.

The prosecution and defense argued Wednesday about the impact between Fowler's truck and the ATV driven by Garrett.

Defense attorney Lynn Plemmons maintained his client hit Martin's ATV when Martin made a sharp left turn in front of Fowler's vehicle.

The two vehicles came in contact on the right side of the truck's front and the left side of the ATV, according to a Faulkner County Sheriff's Office crash reconstructionist.

The speed of the truck at impact was estimated to be between 38 and 42 miles per hour.

Tire marks on the roadway indicate Fowler employed brakes and slid before hitting the ATV.

Martin was propelled forward from the accident, where his head hit the pavement.

According to Faulkner County Coroner Patrick Moore, Martin died of a skull fracture, and he was pronounced dead on scene.

Martin's relatives and friends wore green during the trial Wednesday, apparently in honor of Garrett Martin.

Fowler kept his head low during testimony and the showing of evidential photographs.

He faces charges of DWI, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, and negligent homicide.

 

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