By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The trial of a man accused of manslaughter and DUI with great bodily harm began Tuesday morning in Garfield County District Court.
Opening statements and testimony from one of the victims was heard in the trial of Vincent Blaine Sixkiller.
Sixkiller was charged Nov. 18, 2010, in the death of Robert Ukena and severe injury of Michelle Schartz, caused by a four-vehicle crash at about 2:04 a.m. on West Willow.
Assistant District Attorney Hope Bryant told jurors they were in court because of a “senseless tragedy.”
She said Sixkiller made the decision to get behind the wheel of his Ford pickup two years ago. She said Schartz still suffers today from her injuries in the crash, and the jury would hear from her.
“A senseless, harmful tragedy with fatal consequences,” Bryant said. “The state is going to ask you to hold him accountable for the first time.”
Sixkiller’s attorney, Evans Chambers, said his client wasn’t drunk the night of the collision.
“Blaine is going down that street. It’s dark. He doesn’t recall everything that happened,” he told the jury. “We believe there were cars turning around. He wasn’t drunk. Something kept him from seeing the parked cars.”
He said Sixkiller admitted to drinking to police, but police never asked what he was drinking. Chambers also mentioned to jurors there was a bottle of water found beside his client’s truck.
Chambers said there were contradictions within the state’s case against Sixkiller, and asked jurors to look for them as the case was presented.
“We don’t believe he was drunk. Period,” Chambers said. “Accidents happen.”
Schartz’s testimony often was tearful when she was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Irene Asai.
Schartz testified she did not recall the collision of Nov. 13, 2010, and lost 33 days of the 40 she spent in the hospital afterward.
She said she didn’t remember Ukena, who she described as a brother not related by blood, as being in the car with her the night of the collision.
Asai asked Schartz what her condition was when she was released from the hospital Dec. 22, 2010.
“I wasn’t all there,” she said. “I had no balance, my mind, my memories weren’t right.”
Since the collision, Schartz said she’d had to learn how to read and write again, do addition and subtraction and has only returned to work for four hours a week.
Upon cross examination, Chambers asked Schartz if she had filed a civil suit against Sixkiller. Asai objected and District Judge Woodward sustained. Chambers had no further questions.
Testimony also was heard from the two people inside the truck in front of Schartz’s vehicle in the collision.
Kyle Gould said following the collision, he checked on Sixkiller, who was inside his Ford Ranger.
“It looked like he was still trying to drive his vehicle,” Gould said. “He was moving the steering wheel.”
Kaylena Pouge, who was a passenger in Gould’s truck, said she also saw Sixkiller attempting to drive his pickup following the collision.
“He was sitting there acting like he was going to drive out of the ditch,” she said.
Bryant asked Pouge if she noticed anything about Sixkiller after speaking with him at the scene.
She said, “I noticed he seemed to be slurring his words and had bloodshot eyes.”
Enid Police Department Sgt. Kevin Bezdicek, who was the first to respond to the collision, said he saw signs of intoxication when speaking to the defendant.
“He had bloodshot, watery eyes, the odor of intoxicants on his breath and his speech was slightly slurred,” Bezdicek said, describing Sixkiller following the collision. Referring to his notes, the sergeant said he noted a “strong” odor of intoxicants that night.
Bezdicek also testified Sixkiller admitted to him at the scene he’d been drinking that night.
“He told me he was heading home and someone had hit him,” he said. “I believe he had been driving under the influence of an intoxicant.”
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.