Update on the Prosecution in the Road Rage Doctor Trial

laist_2.jpgRon Peterson, on July 4, 2008 Photo: LAist

DJ Wheels, an attorney who happens to be a bicycle rider, has been updating the folks at Midnight Ridazz on the ongoing case of the "Road Rage Doctor" as it is heard at the LAX Courthouse.  Wheels was gracious enough to summarize his posts on Monday and Tuesday's hearings.  If you can't get enough Dr. Road Rage, Ted Rogers has more at Biking In L.A.:

Ron Peterson was a great witness...calm, composed...said all the right things when Swarth, the defense attorney, tried to corner him on cross exam. The presentation of the pictures of his injuries and the blood on the back of Thompson's car was powerful stuff. They even brought in Ron's broken Specialized Tarmac. The damn head tube and fork were completely split off from the top tube and down tube!

When pressed by Swarth on still being furious about the incident and the injuries he suffered, Peterson calmly testified, "I just want justice, that's why I'm here."

On direct exam on Monday, Officer Rodriguez said that when he heard Thompson say, "I wanted to teach them a lesson," he stopped investigating it as an accidental traffic collision and called for another patrol unit to investigate it as assault with a deadly weapon.

Tuesday on cross examination, Swarth was trying to establish that Officer Rodriguez basically did a crappy investigation and jumped to the conclusion that it was an intentional and deliberate act on the part of Thompson based solely on his statement, "I wanted to teach them a lesson."  Rodriguez is a veteran police officer and former Marine, so he wasn't cracking and repeated that it wasn't up to him to follow up and ask what Thompson meant by that statement because it was not protocol. Another investigator would have to do that follow up.

Two doctors also testified yesterday. One who was actually at the scene going home and stopped to help.   The other doctor was a plastic surgeon who assessed Ron Peterson's injuries a few days after the incident. Not only did Peterson suffer lacerations to the face, but he also had a broken nose as well as internal fractures to his nasal passage.  Apparently, he still can't feel his nose.

The last witness called yesterday was Patrick Watson, who had reported a prior similar incident on Mandeville Canyon involving this same vehicle and Thompson back in March 2008. He testified that he had to bunny hop on to the curb twice to avoid getting hit by Thompson's vehicle. He also said that when another cyclist that was there yelled at him to get out of the car and actually punched his car, Thompson started to drive away and come right toward Watson, but then swerved away and drove off.

Swarth is still cross examining Watson and will continue on Thursday. (NOTE: Wednesday the courts are closed because of state-wide furloughs.)

I dunno about Watson though. He looks sincere, but not as calm and composed on the stand as Ron Peterson. Swarth is grilling him on stuff he posted about the incident to his cycling club's email list on Yahoo Groups. Swarth is trying to point out inconsistencies and bias that are pretty obvious in his email. The defense is probing into his state of mind and feelings toward his incident and Thompson in order to suggest that he has a motive to lie and therefore not a credible witness. 

Swarth will finish with Watson's cross examination Thursday morning.  The prosecution will then call the cyclist who was there with Watson during the March 2008 incident, followed by another two detectives.  Friday district attorney intends to call two expert witnesses. 

The defense may begin calling their first witness on Friday if time and schedules permit.