Prosecution rest in LA road rage case. Defense will call witnesses Monday.
By Patrick Brady
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Mary Stone rested the prosecution’s case against Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson on Friday afternoon, following five and a half days of testimony in Thompson’s trial on assault charges.
The charges stem from an altercation with two cyclists on a Los Angeles County canyon road on July 4, 2008, and another incident involving two different cyclists in March that year, on the same road.
In the final two days of the prosecution’s case, jurors heard testimony from two cyclists involved in the March episode, which did not result in any injuries.
Jurors also heard testimony from doctors who treated the cyclists in the July 4 incident; an accident reconstruction expert who analyzed GPS files from cyclists in both incidents; another cyclist who said he had an altercation with Thompson earlier, and finally an LAPD detective who investigated the case.
The March incident
Thursday began with defense attorney Peter Swarth finishing up the cross-examination of Patrick Watson, one of the riders involved in the March incident. Swarth spent a great deal of time going over Watson’s two bunny hops onto the grass next to the road as well as the distances between Dr. Thompson and Watson at various stages of the incident.
Watson had difficulty relating specific distances at specific points. Eventually, in referring to the point at which Watson got off his bike, Swarth said, “You wanted to kill (Dr. Thompson)!”
“I was pissed,” Watson said.
Testimony then moved to the inability of a motorist to identify a cyclist by anything such as a license or other identifying mark.
Swarth charged, “You remain anonymous!” to which the prosecution objected as argumentative, which the judge sustained.
Next to testify was Patrick Watson’s training partner, Josh Crosby. Crosby had an easier time describing the events of the day to the jury. He said Thompson passed them, words were exchanged, then Thompson pulled ahead, forcing Watson onto the grass and Crosby into oncoming traffic. He said after Watson returned to the road Thompson stopped suddenly, forcing Watson back onto the grass and Crosby into the oncoming traffic lane yet again. Crosby said when he told Thompson to get out of the car, Thompson accelerated toward each rider.
Later, under cross-examination, Swarth asked Crosby why he wanted Thompson to get out of the car. Swarth asked, “Did you want to educate him?”
“I don’t think there was any need for education,” Crosby said. “I think he knew what he was doing.”
Swarth asked what his plan was.
“The plan,” Crosby said, “was to see if my teammate was okay, get (Thompson’s) info and wait for the cops.”
Watson, in the March incident, and Stoehr, in the July 4 incident, each used GPS devices on their bikes. Accident reconstruction specialist Gerald Bretting said the devices showed Stoehr was going 28.1 mph and Watson was going 29.2 mph just prior to Thompson passing them in their respective incidents.
A third incident raised
Patrick Early told jurors that he had an incident with a driver he believes was Thompson, sometime in the winter of 2008. Early, who said he is a casual cyclist, said he could hear a car approach at a high rate of speed, which he estimated to be 40 to 50 mph. He said he could judge the speed by the engine’s high rpms, the tire sound on the road and the sound of air moving over the body of the car.
Following a loud, long honk of the horn, Stone asked Early what he did next.
“I braced for impact,” he said. “I thought I was going to be hit.”
Early works in the automotive industry and described in great detail how he identified the vehicle that passed him. He even drew a sketch of the differences in body styles of various Infiniti models.
According to Early, as the car passed, the driver turned and said either, “Get the fuck out of the road,” or “Get the fuck off the road.” Early said he couldn’t be certain which of the two it was due to wind noise.
Early said he yelled back after the car was past, “I think, asshole.”
Early said the driver stopped approximately 25 feet ahead of him. Because Early was riding uphill at only about 10 mph, he was able to stop without running into Thompson’s vehicle.
Early testified the driver was “angry, extremely angry. He was in a rage; he was someone out of control.”
The defense begins its case at 11 a.m. Monday.