Bobbie Jo Morgan, Double Homicide by Vehicle While DUI Trial Underway

CLEARFIELD – The trial for a woman accused of a double-fatal homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of drugs

Bobbi Jo Morgan, 22, of Patton, is accused of traveling off of state Route 36 (East Main Street) in Mahaffey Borough July 25, killing 63-year-old Bertha Kitchen and her 3-year-old granddaughter.

In total, Morgan faces two counts each of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter. She also faces one count each of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, driving on roadways laned for traffic, careless driving, reckless driving and restraint systems.

The first person to testify was Lori Barnett. She said that on July 25, 2007, she was with her daughter. They were going to cross SR 36 to take canning jars to a neighbor. She testified that prior to looking both ways she saw a truck heading north.

Barnett also testified that she saw Bertha Kitchen pushing a stroller.

Looking both ways, Barnett said that she saw a blue car coming south. Barnett said that the car was far enough away so she told her daughter to cross.

Barnett said she heard a loud noise, the blue car went through her neighbor’s fence and that she thought a car had hit her daughter. She said that Morgan got out of the blue car and that Morgan thought she hit Barnett’s daughter.

Barnett’s daughter was hit by a piece of fencing.

Barnett said that Morgan said a truck ran her off the road. Barnett said that the truck was gone.

Around this point in the trial Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. showed the Barnett and the jurors a photo of the blue car and skid marks. Morgan, who had her head down through parts of Barnett’s testimony, began to sniffle.

Later in the trial another woman in the gallery began to cry and left the courtroom.

Barnett’s neighbor Vicki Hullihen took the stand next. She testified that she was watching television when she heard a thud, then saw a car go through her fences and yard. She said that Barnett’s daughter was at the door yelling for help.

Hullihen called 911 then went to her vehicle to get her CPR mask. Hullihen testified that she was taking a first responder classes with the Mahaffey Fire Company and had trained as a nurse.

She said she ran to the scene. She said she saw Bertha Kitchen lying near a tree in the neighbor’s yard, about 25 feet from the road. Samantha Kitchen was further from the road than Bertha, according to Hullihen.

Hullihen said she gave medical assistance before checking on her own children. She then went to get insurance information from Morgan. Hullihen said that Morgan did not have that information with her and that Morgan would not give Hullihen her name. Hullihen said that Morgan told her that she did not know where she was and was coming home from the methadone clinic.

Hullihen said that Morgan appeared intoxicated.

“Her eyes were glassy, constricted,” said Hullihen, who also said that Morgan had been crying.

She also testified that Morgan told her, “She (Morgan) was run off the road by a truck, closed her eyes and began hitting things.”

Under cross examination by defense attorney Brian Manchester Hullihen said that she was angry with Morgan.

“I was angry because she ran through my yard,” said Hullihen. “On a typical day … they (her children) would have been playing in my yard.”

Hullihen also testified that there was a container of glue on Morgan’s passenger seat. Manchester questioned why this was never brought up before. Hullihen said that she had never been asked about it. Shaw then provided a picture of the all purpose cement glue into evidence.

The Rev. Doug Turner Sr. and Steven Wilder testified that they were at a yard sale when the coal truck went by. Wilder testified that he glanced up at one point and saw the truck rounding a curve. He testified that the truck was past the car at the time of the accident, though he did not see Morgan leave the roadway.

Both responded to the scene. Turner testified as to the location of Bertha and Samantha Kitchen and the stroller.

When asked if the stroller was in the proximity of Bertha or Samantha Kitchen, Turner said, “Parts of it, yes.”

Cpl. John Burke, an accident reconstructionist with the Pennsylvania State Police testified that he was called to examine the scene and reconstruct what had occurred.

Burke testified that as part of his job he uses mathematical equations to come to conclusions regarding pre-and-post-impact speeds, perception/reaction time, among other areas of his work.

He testified that it appeared the blue car drifted off the side of the road, going about 25-30 miles-per-hour and struck the stroller containing Samantha Kitchen head-on and Bertha Kitchen with the front passenger side. The vehicle then traveled through a yard, crossed an alleyway, struck an embankment on the other side of the alleyway and vaulted with all four tires leaving the ground for a little over 35 feet. The vehicle then continued through Hullihens yard and fences before coming to rest in driveway.

Burke said that there were no signs of evasive action from the vehicle until it entered the driveway, where the brakes were applied 180 feet from the point of impact with the pedestrians.

Burke will retake the stand when the trial recommences around 1:15 p.m.

Keep reading GantDaily for more updates on this five-day scheduled trail as they become available.

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