By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
12:12 AM EDT, May 7, 2010
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The prosecution of a 37-year-old man who was charged in March with driving under the influence causing the death of Mary Frances Punt of Hagerstown was allowed to proceed Wednesday after a Berkeley County magistrate found probable cause during a preliminary hearing.
The decision by Magistrate Joan V. Bragg effectively bound the case against Jeffrey Wayne McKinney over to circuit court where a grand jury is expected to consider whether to indict the Berkeley County man.
Bragg announced her decision after hearing testimony from Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Terry S. Shetley and Lt. W.A. Johnson, who investigated the March 18 accident.
McKinney was represented by attorney Harley O. Wagner, who repeatedly questioned Shetley in the hearing Wednesday about his handling of field sobriety tests.
Punt died at the scene of the accident at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Berkeley Station Road, police said.
Upon being cross-examined by Wagner, Johnson testified that he did not know how fast the 1989 Geo Spectrum that Punt was driving was traveling or whether the lights on her vehicle were on.
Punt was returning north on U.S. 11 to Hagerstown from Inwood, W.Va., where she was attending some type of church function when the accident happened about 11:30 p.m., according to Johnson and Shetley's testimony.
Johnson said he learned from his investigation that Punt didn't like traveling on Interstate 81.
McKinney, meanwhile, was traveling south on U.S. 11 in a Chevrolet Silverado pickup and was left of center when the crash occurred, Johnson said.
The deputy said he was able to determine that McKinney's vehicle was traveling about 25 mph just before the accident happened after checking the truck's "black box." The vehicle Punt was driving did not have the technology installed because it was an older car, Johnson said.
McKinney had started to make a left turn onto Berkeley Station Road when the crash occurred, Johnson said.
McKinney failed three field-sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test, which indicated his blood-alcohol content was .165, Shetley testified. An intoximeter test conducted later at the Sheriff's Department indicated a result of .148, Shetley testified. The legal limit is .08.
Shetley testified that McKinney told him at the scene that he consumed five or six beers at a nearby bar. In cross-examination, Shetley said McKinney did not stumble or have trouble understanding the deputy.
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