[Nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 61°F  
High: 63°F ~ Low: 55°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Trial of Jason Hays; prosecution witnesses testify on day two

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On day two of the trial of Jason Hays, the jury listened to testimony from the first officer to arrive on the scene, followed by a detective who was on the scene and continued to investigate the case, a certified accident reconstructionist from the Indiana State Police, and two expert witnesses -- a forensic toxicologist and a forensic DNA analyst.

Hays is accused of causing an accident that claimed the life of a young mother on February 15, 2012 in eastern Greene County, and of operating his vehicle with a controlled substance, specifically methamphetamine, in his blood at the time of the crash.

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. Hays was eastbound in a 2008 Jeep Laredo when he allegedly crossed a double yellow line and hit a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina head-on. The driver of the Lumina, Savannah Allen, 25, was killed as a result of massive blunt force trauma.

Hays is on trial in Greene Circuit Court with Judge Erik Allen presiding. Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw is presenting the case for the State and Defense Attorney James Riester is representing the defendant. The trial is expected to last four days.

Hays is charged with a class B felony, operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the body causing death. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance.

All of the day's witnesses were called to the stand by the prosecution.

Their first witness, Jennifer Johnson, would have been called to the stand on Monday following opening arguments, but due to a medical issue, she was not able to attend the trial. She was deposed on an earlier date and by agreement of both sides, the transcript of the deposition was read to the jury before they were dismissed for the day on Monday.

Questions that had been asked by Holtsclaw were read by Holtsclaw, Riester read the questions he had asked, and Julie Criger of the Greene County Prosecutor's Office read the answers that were given by Johnson.

Johnson said she was 42, married with three children, had worked for Stone Belt for 10 years and had lived in the same place for 21 years. On the day of the crash, she was driving a vehicle on the highway behind Hays. She did not see the crash but said she had just turned onto the highway when a tire (from the crash) came rolling down the hill toward her.

Johnson avoided the tire then pulled over and stopped behind the Jeep Laredo driven by Hays. Her husband went down to the other vehicle involved in the crash but Johnson stayed near the Jeep. She remained on the scene for about 25 minutes.

Johnson said she saw Hays climbing out of his Jeep, backwards, and she called 9-1-1. She said Hays had blood coming from his face and he seemed confused. She tried to get him to sit down.

According to Johnson's answers, Hays made a call on a cell phone then started cleaning out his vehicle saying he had to clean up his stuff and get his stuff out of the Jeep. She said he had a duffle bag and cleaned out the front passenger side first, putting what looked to her to be everyday trash and car debris in the bag.

Johnson said he then moved to the back of the Jeep, opened the hatch and began cleaning out the back, putting things in a trash bag. She said she was concerned about his health but he was focused on getting his stuff collected. He would not sit down.

She also said at one point Hays was squatted down off to the side of the Jeep shuffling his hands on top of the leaves. Police later found a wooden spoon in the area where he had been shuffling leaves.

Johnson said she did not smell alcohol but could not say whether or not Hays was using drugs -- she did see his behavior of climbing out of the window backwards then cleaning out his vehicle -- Hays never asked about the driver in the other vehicle.

Greene County Sheriff's Deputy Brad Deckard was the first officer on the scene and the first witness on the stand Tuesday. Deckard reportedly asked Hays to submit to a chemical test but he refused all tests.

Greene County Sheriff's Detective Christopher McDonald, who was called to the scene and has continued to investigate the case, was next up. McDonald was questioned about his investigation and under cross-examination by Riester, asked if he was wearing the same coat, when he collected evidence out of the Jeep, that he might have worn into other houses during investigations into methamphetamine use or labs. He said he wore several changes of sterile gloves to collect the blood splatter evidence off the seat and airbag of the Jeep, but he was wearing the same coat.

Riester asked McDonald if he had tested the seat for contamination and McDonald said no, he did not see any contaminants and if he had, he would have collected them and sent them to the state police lab.

When Kevin Shanks took the stand, he was designated as an expert witness. Shanks is a forensic toxicologist who has worked for AIT Laboratories in Indianapolis since 2003.

Shanks performed tests on a piece of leather with a blood splatter -- it had been cut out of the driver's seat in the Jeep. He explained the testing procedure and said the specimen tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. A second test confirmed the outcome and the results were peer reviewed.

In Riester's questioning, he suggested that a little piece of methamphetamine could have landed on the blood splatter and caused it to test positive. He also suggested that if four years ago somebody had made meth in the vehicle and spilled it on the seat, it would have caused the test to be positive.

Susan Laine was also designated as an expert witness. Laine is a forensic DNA analyst who has worked in the Indiana State Police Laboratory in Evansville for 18 years. Laine testified DNA analysis showed that in the absence of an identical twin to Hays, the blood splatter on the seat and on the airbag in the Jeep was a match to Hays.

Indiana State Police Trooper Justin Butler was also called to testify about his roll in collecting and transporting the event data recorder's from both vehicles after the crash. Butler works out of the Bloomington Post, graduated from the academy in 2006 and has been a certified crash reconstructionist since 2009.

Witness testimony for the prosecution will continue Wednesday. It's expected the state will wrap up their case mid-day and then the defense will present their case to the jury.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on gcdailyworld.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.


-- Posted by dorindaJ on Tue, Jan 29, 2013, at 11:42 PM

The evidence is inconclusive.

-- Posted by dorindaJ on Tue, Jan 29, 2013, at 11:57 PM

I hope he gets found guilty and does time in prison. He took the life of a young mother now her children have no mother. I hope he relives this everyday. Maybe you will print this one.

-- Posted by ivfaambell@gmail.com on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 12:37 AM

A fair trail, not really, come on must of the post has him convicted, the fact that the police took the samples with out permission is a big deal in our (USA) justice system, was there any samples taken from miss Allen? couldn't she have had something in her system as well? I'm not saying she did, but if she had would it make any difference to any of you people. The possibility is there, unless samples were taken from her too, know one will ever know for sure, perhasp she was impaired enough not to react to the jeep crossing the line. Meth stays in the system longer then the effects of the drug, Mr. Hayes could have used the day before or two or even three and it could still show in his blood, that is why probation takes urine screens, they don't have to catch you high on drugs, just show that you had used it. There are plenty of users out there that know this, many are still busted on probation cause they are weak willed and use even when they know they are going to be caught. The death of that young mother is a sad thing, but to allow Greene County to use samples not taken in the proper why is also a sad thing. There are procedures to get them legally. All they had to do was ask the judge for a warrant for the samples. I hope everyone of you that read this and think it is BS never has to deal with the Greene county Courts, Cause when you do, you just might find yourself in Mr. Hayes shoes. Going on trail guilty till proven innocent, most of the post before mine have him hung by the neck already, look to your left, and your right the next time you go to Wal-Mart you'll see a meth user, a drunk driver, a pot head, by the states own numbers if you would reach out and touch 10 people at ramdom chances are at least three of them are convicted of something at sometime in their life. If he is guilty he deserves the time, but the police had the job of doing it the right way, period. That is why we have laws and procedures, the chain of custody on the samples is bad, how long was the blood on the seat, the police reports state "the defendant did not exhibit signs of alcohol or drug use right after the crash" so who to believe the police officer that wrote the report that said that or the cop that took illegally obtain samples that were not drawn from Mr. Hays. Enough said, except that the death of Savanah Allen was senseless and tragic.

-- Posted by Neohomesteader on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 2:30 AM

Neohomesteader, To say the samples were taken illegally or that police took samples without permission - that is not correct. Det. McDonald requested a search warrant from Greene Circuit Court. Request granted. The search warrant was executed on Feb. 16.

-- Posted by Anna Rochelle on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 9:04 AM

To clarify, that was for items in the Jeep. A search warrant was also obtained for the event data recorders from the vehicles. And a search warrant was obtained for a DNA sample from Hays - executed on April 3.

-- Posted by Anna Rochelle on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 9:20 AM

To Neohomesteader and the rest of you who have decided that Mr. Hays is being treated unfairly - I am so furious that you could even suggest that in some way Savannah was at fault. Mr. Hays chose to use drugs and not just once. He was already on probation for drug offense and less than a month after the accident he was arrested on drug charges in another county. So we can assume the death he caused has not led him to a new way of life. Mr. Hays made the choices he made, Savannah had no choice. Mr. Hays chose to use drugs in his life and for whatever reason, he did cross the center line causing a death He has also continued in his old way of life. For him nothing changed. For Savannah's family and friends - everything changed!

-- Posted by It is time on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 12:37 PM

Jason is not an evil person but it would help if he showed at least some remorse. I am sorry for both of their families.

-- Posted by leilo on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 2:49 PM

Really??? Greene County has one of the most active and dedicated police officers around, who do their jobs very well. Our prosecutor does a outstanding job dealing with the scum in our county.......the police obtained the evidence legally, that is clear. Clearly you two need to research indiana and federal law on these matters, but it seems both of you must of had a "bad" experience with the law. the evidence points out that he clearly had meth in his system, regardless if it was an hour or day ebfore, but more importantly, he crossed the center line. he crossed it. why should she of had to "react" to him crossing the line..why could he not use better judgement to not do drugs, not drive under the influence of drugs.

-- Posted by TheSecretTruth on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 3:52 PM

The police collected the blood from outside the body which leaves too many open possibilities to constitute "beyond a reasonable doubt" in my opinion.

-- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 4:47 PM

Especially so when he had been previously arrested for manufacturing meth in vehicle in March of 2012.


Blood tainted outside of the body is highly possible under these circumstances. This is not a "more likely happened than not" situation it requires a preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, all assumptions aside.

-- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 5:31 PM

If he had nothing to hide why didn't he take a blood test? And why did he hide out for days?

-- Posted by cardinalmom on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 5:50 PM

I cannot answer that question however it opens the door to many "assumptions".

-- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 5:54 PM

This accident was indeed a tragedy for all involved. I cannot fathom the pain and sadness of such a loss. Prayers.

cardinalmom, I'm often not good with words. What I'm trying to say I am looking at this objectively, remembering innocence until proven guilt.

I was driving to Bloomington that morning and bypassed through Little Cincinnati. I am certain that all responders did their absolute best as did the detectives also.

-- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 6:37 PM

dorindaJ & Neohomesteader, if you were not in court, you cannot possibly know whether the evidence was conclusive or not. I was there and Prosecutor Holtsclaw did prove "beyond a reasonable doubt",(look up what this means, it does not mean "beyond any doubt"). Jason Hays crossed the center line while driving with meth in his blood, regardless of when he ingested it, hit Savanah's car with his vehicle & caused her death. The blood samples were taken from the Jeep, obtained with a search warrant, only the next day after the crash. Detective McDonald followed the law and justice has been served in this case.

-- Posted by gocolts on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 8:31 PM

He crossed the center line. Why should Savannah have to defend herself to any of you. When he crossed the line he killed my neice. He is alive and she is gone. A father and small child are left. A child who will only know her mother by the stories that are told to her. Check today's paper. GUILTY

-- Posted by AJW on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 8:55 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: