GREAT FALLS — The trial is under way for a man charged with striking and killing a deputy during a high-speed pursuit.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave opening arguments Tuesday in the case against Adam Sanchez Jr., The Great Falls Tribune reported (http://gftrib.com/1Ghzkhc).
Authorities say the Aug. 14 chase began in Great Falls and continued toward Geyser. Sanchez then turned around and was headed back to Great Falls when Cascade County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Dunn was struck.
After his arrest, Sanchez was hospitalized for extreme methamphetamine toxicity.
Attorneys questioned witnesses about whether Sanchez intentionally hit Dunn.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Sam Goodemoot testified that he spotted Sanchez driving at 94 miles per hour and started to pursue him.
“I’ve seen a lot of people die on that highway,” Goodemoot said. “Somebody innocent was going to get killed if I didn’t keep with him.”
Goodemoot’s dashboard camera recorded the chase, but the view of the collision with Dunn was blocked. He told jurors that it looked like Sanchez hit Dunn on purpose.
Tom Bartleson of the Montana State Office of Public Defender said in his opening statement that prosecutors would fail to prove intent.
He said vehicles blocked the defendant’s view of the deputy. He questioned Goodemoot’s ability to see the collision when it occurred.
Sanchez, he said, was trying to avoid stop sticks and had few options leading up to the collision.
“There’s no knowing choice,” Bartleson said.
Sanchez is serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery and actions during another pursuit.
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