Deputy District Attorney Patrick McKinley advanced his argument on Monday that murder suspect David Attias was under the influence of marijuana on the evening of Feb. 23, 2001.
Monday morning, the jury heard testimony from both the nurse practitioner and medical doctor who treated the former UCSB student after his car hit five people and killed four. Both women testified that the defendant – who is charged with nine felonies, including manslaughter with gross negligence while driving under the influence of marijuana, and driving under the influence of marijuana resulting in great bodily injury – told them he had smoked marijuana prior to the collision on Sabado Tarde Road.
The testimony is pertinent because the prosecution’s charges include the stipulation that Attias was under the influence of marijuana, but the defense team filed a motion earlier this month to exclude expert opinion regarding the amount of marijuana in their client’s blood the night of the accident.
The defense has argued that the 1.1 nanograms found in Attias’ blood about two and a half hours after the collision is so minute that “there is no compelling evidence … that there was any THC present in the sample.” In his opening argument, defense attorney Jack Earley compared the amount of THC in his client’s blood to one orange golf ball in a gymnasium filled with white golf balls.
Throughout six days of court since the trial began, McKinley has worked to establish a picture of the defendant as a habitual user of marijuana and other illegal substances, while Earley has tried to prove that Attias rarely used narcotics and only talked about them to fit in at UCSB.
Both Cynthia Watt, a registered nurse at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, and Lisa Trosino, an emergency room physician at Cottage, were on duty and treated the defendant, who was admitted to the hospital around 3 a.m. on Feb. 24. In addition to the testimony regarding marijuana, Watt and Trosino both said Attias was “alert and orientated times three.”
“That means he was orientated to the person, place and time,” Watt said. “He was upset … but other than that he seemed to be acting like a normal patient.”
The prosecution also questioned Trosino about the local anesthesia, lidocaine, which was administered to Attias while he was treated at the hospital. Attias tested positive to lidocaine – which is often used as a cutting agent in cocaine – before he was treated at the hospital.
“If the [California Highway Patrol] obtained a blood sample before he came to Goleta Valley … is it correct that this lidocaine couldn’t possibly be in the blood sample they got before they got to the hospital?” McKinley said.
“That is correct,” Trosino said.
The trial will continue today at 10 a.m. in Department 2 of the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse.