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Update on the Prosecution in the Road Rage Doctor Trial

9:53 AM PDT on October 22, 2009

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 rightthings when Swarth, the defense attorney, tried to corner him on cross exam. The presentationof the pictures of his injuries and the blood on the back of Thompson'scar was powerful stuff. They even brought in Ron's broken SpecializedTarmac. The damn head tube and fork were completely split off from thetop tube and down tube!

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

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

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

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

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

Swarth is still cross examining Watson and will continue onThursday. (NOTE: Wednesday the courts are closed because of state-widefurloughs.)

I dunno about Watson though. He looks sincere, but not as calm andcomposed on the stand as Ron Peterson. Swarth is grilling him on stuffhe posted about the incident to his cycling club's email list on YahooGroups. Swarth is trying to point out inconsistencies and bias that arepretty obvious in his email. The defense is probing into his state ofmind and feelings toward his incident and Thompson in order to suggestthat he hasa motive to lie and therefore not a credible witness. 

Swarthwill finish with Watson's cross examination Thursday morning.  Theprosecution will then call the cyclist who was there with Watson duringthe March 2008 incident, followed by another two detectives.  Fridaydistrict attorney intends to call two expert witnesses. 

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

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