Motion hearings heard before upcoming manslaughter trial

Ashlynd Huffman/ Stillwater News Press The Payne County Courthouse. 

Judge Stephen Kistler ruled the statements made by a defendant to Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers were admissible for upcoming trial.

Christopher Tucker, 33, of Yukon, was charged with first-degree manslaughter/DUI or the alternative of first-degree manslaughter/reckless driving.

He was charged in 2018 after he was involved in a fatal collision near Stillwater in 2017.

On Monday, Tucker had a motion hearing in a motion to suppress and a Jackson Denno Hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington is representing the state and Tucker is being represented by Alan Woodland.

Etherington called the first witness to testify at the hearing, who was OHP Trooper Anthony Harper.

Harper investigated the traffic homicide that occurred Aug. 11, 2017.

It was said in court the reason it took so long for charges to be presented was because the investigating trooper had a motorcycle accident that retired the trooper, thus Harper took over.

Harper said multiple agencies responded to the fatality that day, and he met Tucker in the back of the ambulance.

Harper testified that he was originally told by Tucker that he was driving 72-73 mph when the vehicle in front of him slammed on its breaks, causing him to hit them.

Eventually, Tucker admitted to Harper he had some alcoholic beverages while at work, but the approximate time of the drinks is unknown.

Woodland cross-examined Harper and asked if his client was ever under arrest and why he wasn’t mirandized.

He also asked if a timeframe is important for getting police reports finished, and Harper said it was.

The last witness called by Etherington was Trooper Steffon Williams.

His role the day of the fatality was to take Tucker to Stillwater Medical Center for a blood test and then back to the scene.

He testified no meaningful conversation occurred during the blood test or the drive to and from SMC.

Both troopers alleged they smelled a faint alcoholic beverage on Tucker.

Kistler heard arguments from both sides regarding the motions.

The defense argued his client’s statements made to the two troopers shouldn’t be allowed into the trial.

He said his client was in shock, and that any reasonable person in this situation would assume they were under arrest.

Judge Kistler ruled the statements made by Tucker were given “voluntarily” and he believed mirandizing Tucker would be unnecessary since he wasn’t under arrest at the time of the statements.

Tucker will have a jury trial toward the end of April, and both sides said there aren't any pretrial issues pending.

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