Jason M. Hays is accused of causing a tragic accident that claimed the life of a young mother, Savanah Allen, on February 15, 2012 in eastern Greene County.
Police allege Hays, 30 years old at the time, was operating his vehicle with a controlled substance, specifically methamphetamine, in his blood at the time of the crash, and this week he's on trial in Greene Circuit Court.
Jury selection began at 9 a.m. Monday to seat 14 people -- 12 jurors plus two alternates. Following their selection and a lunch recess, jurors were given instructions by Judge Erik Allen around 2:30 p.m. followed by opening arguments.
Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw said there are some facts that both the prosecution and the defense agree upon: That Allen was killed, at the age of 25, when her car collided with a Jeep driven by Hays. The cause of her death, according to autopsy results, was massive blunt force trauma to her head, her chest, her abdomen and her extremities.
Allen was pronounced dead on the scene by Greene County Coroner Sherry Wilson.
The crash occurred around 10 a.m. about 1,800 feet west of the junction of State Roads 445 and 45, east of the entrance into the Lawrence Hollow area.
Allen was westbound on the highway in a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina. Hays was eastbound in a 2008 Jeep Laredo.
The Jeep crossed a double yellow line and hit the Lumina head-on.
The prosecution claims Hays refused a chemical test following the accident but officers obtained blood for analysis from the seat and airbag of the Laredo. They claim tests show there was methamphetamine in the blood samples obtained, and they are a match to Hays.
The prosecution also claims Hays was traveling at 60 mph at the time of the crash and the brakes were not applied.
They are expected to call a number of witnesses including a woman who was traveling behind Hays who stopped at the scene before police or emergency medical personnel arrived, detectives and officers who were on the scene or investigated the case, an Indiana State Police Trooper who is an accident reconstructionist, and a forensic toxicologist.
Hays is being represented by Defense Attorney James Riester serving as a public defender.
In Riester's opening argument, he said there were no witnesses to the accident and the defendant does not have a clear memory of the crash.
Riester claims law enforcement did not follow standards during their investigation and their conclusions are flawed.
Riester said the defendant was not required to give a blood sample -- according to Indiana law, the state has to offer the test and if he refuses, he could lose his license for one year, but there is no requirement to take the test.
In addition, he said the defendant did not exhibit signs of alcohol or drug use right after the crash, and there is no medical evidence that the methamphetamine that was in the blood sample was in the defendant's blood when it was in his body.
Riester said the scene was mishandled and evidence was contaminated.
Hays has been charged with a class B felony, operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II (methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance) controlled substance in the body causing death.
The trial will continue on Tuesday and is expected to last four days.