SARASOTA -- A Florida Highway Patrol trooper testified this morning that a passenger in a pickup truck that crashed on Interstate 75 in March 2009 told him shortly after the accident that the vehicle was being driven by Josh Hunter at the time of the wreck.
Hunter, former head football coach at Braden River High School, is on trial this week, charged with DUI manslaughter in the death of his friend and assistant coach, Doug Garrity.
As part of its case, the prosecution is attempting to prove that Hunter was driving at the time of the accident. His brother, James, who also was in the vehicle has been jailed because of his refusal to testify against his brother; and another passenger, Matt Braselton, has said he doesn't remember who was driving.
However, about 20 minutes after the March 21, 2009, accident, Braselton told FHP Trooper George Yock that Josh Hunter was the driver, Yock testified this morning.
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Josh Hunter's defense attorney, Brett McIntosh, objected to Yock's testimony, arguing that it was hearsay and therefore inadmissible. After hearing arguments outside the presence of the jury, Circuit Judge Donna Berlin overruled the objection and allowed the testimony.
Braselton testified this afternoon that he still doesn't remember who was driving, and that he doesn't remember whether Hunter had been drinking in the hours leading up to the accident.
James Hunter was expected to be called to testify later today. Prosecutors have said they will file a criminal contempt charge against James Hunter, who has been jailed since last week for civil contempt, if he again refuses to testify against his brother.
Yock also testified that shortly after the accident, Josh Hunter's breath smelled of alcohol and his eyes were watery and bloodshot.
Troopers did not perform a field sobriety test of Hunter at the scene of the accident, but his blood was drawn about two hours later. Results showed he had blood alcohol content of .21, almost three times the legal limit in Florida of .08.
Under defense cross-examination, Yock testified that Hunter did not stagger or otherwise appear physically impaired. He also followed troopers' instructions, according to Yock.