Judge rules Cushing manslaughter case can move forward

Christopher Collier appeared in court Wednesday morning for his preliminary hearing, where he is charged with manslaughter. 

Several law enforcement officers testified Wednesday before Judge Katherine Thomas as she heard evidence at a manslaughter preliminary hearing.

Christopher Clint Collier, of Drumright, was charged with first-degree manslaughter DUI or in the alternative of first-degree manslaughter driving a motor vehicle left of center.

Collier was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and prescription pills and speeding.

In court, it was said Collier didn’t have alcohol in his system, but he was on prescribed medication at the time of the fatal collision.

Cushing resident Curtis Sams was struck by Collier as Sams was blowing leaves from his business’ lawn. Collier was reportedly driving 38 mph in a 35 mph zone. He also went left of center, prompting the alternative charge, which was added in May.

The state was represented by attorneys Kevin Etherington and Jose Villarreal, and Collier was represented by Royce Hobbs. The first three witnesses called to testify on behalf of the state were Cushing Police Officers who were on scene investigating the collision.

Sgt. Jack Ford was the first to testify. He told the court he “observed a large amount of people” when he arrived on scene. Collier was described as emotional when Ford spoke to him on scene.

“Mr. Collier kept telling me he tried to stop the truck,” Ford told the court.

He was also tasked with taking inventory of Collier’s truck, he testified there were several alcohol bottles and pill bottles in the vehicle along with cellphones and usual car items. One alcohol bottle had been opened but the others hadn’t been, he said.

During cross-examination Hobbs brought up the liquor bottles and asked if he was familiar with alcohol given on airplanes, he said he wasn’t. Hobbs also asked Ford if he was told by Collier that someone had left the bottle of alcohol in his vehicle without his knowledge. He didn’t recall being told that.

Officer Kurt McKean was next to testify. He took Collier to get a blood kit done, which is required in Oklahoma when there is a fatal collision.

“He advised me he was not intoxicated and he would take the test,” he said.

McKean drove Collier to Hillcrest Hospital in Cushing and then to the police station to be interviewed by Ford. He was briefly cross-examined by Hobbs about his dashcam being activated and about his client being locked in the back of the patrol vehicle.

The last officer from Cushing PD to testify was Detective Jerrod Livergood. He became involved in the case when McKean asked him to deliver the blood kit to the scene of the collision. He also conducted a follow-up phone call with Collier to determine if he remembered anything else from the collision.

The last witness to testify was Matthew Ledbetter with the OHP Traffic Homicide Unit. He got involved to assist Cushing PD with getting the data from the Airbag Control Module.

Ledbetter testified that there was no braking from Collier prior to hitting the street signs, which were hit after Sams was struck.

It was said in court that Collier was not on his phone at the time of the collision, and it was speculated that Collier hit the gas when meaning to hit the brakes.

Thomas ruled that there was enough probable cause to support either one of the charges the state has brought against Collier.

He will appear in court July 23 for trial court arraignment.

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