Jurors in Ricky Trent Stanley’s murder trial in the death of Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Key heard from the medical examiner Wednesday.
Dr. William McClain said Mr. Key suffered abrasions to his scalp, legs, arms and stomach area. He also suffered numerous broken bones and a lacerated aorta. McClain said Mr. Key likely died from a combination of things but the lacerated aorta was a major factor.
Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown asked McClain if Mr. Key would have been in pain in the last few moments of his life and the M.E. said there is no way to know exactly what Mr. Key knew, but people with those injuries have been known to be aware of what was going on around them in the moments before they died. Jurors were shown photos of the injuries Mr. Key sustains.
In addition to hearing from the medical examiner, jurors also heard from Stanley himself via video taped conversations he had with police officers on the night Mr. Key died. Other witnesses to take the stand Wednesday included the man whose truck Stanley was driving the night he struck Mr. Key and a woman who was one of the last people to see Stanley before the wreck.
In addition to hearing from those witnesses, jurors got a crash course in the tests that Texas Department of Public Safety officials use to determine if a person is intoxicated.
In the video taped conversations, jurors saw a rather dazed looking Stanley tell law enforcement officials that he thought he hit something at the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and Bethany Road but that he wasn’t sure what it was. He said he thought he had moved over enough to clear any danger as he approached the flashing red and blue lights. A Savoy officer told Stanley that he had struck and probably killed a deputy sheriff. Jurors then watched as Stanley cried in the back of a patrol car. Those same jurors listened as a DPS trooper pointed out the number of ways Stanley failed the tests officers use to see if one is intoxicated. That same trooper agreed with Stanley’s defense attorney, Gaylon Riddels, that Stanley was very cooperative on the night he was arrested for running over Mr. Key.
The deputy was directing traffic at the intersection on 82 after a police chase that began in Fannin County ended there.
Sean Lewers, the training officer who was riding along with Mr. Key on the night that he died said Mr. Key did nothing that contributed to his death. “I would have done the same thing,” the officer said when asked about the fact that Mr. Key was directing traffic with a flashlight without a reflective vest that night.
“I heard the truck coming. It wasn’t slowing down at all,” he said. He said he yelled for people to watch out and then he and other people had to run off to the side of the roadway to keep from being hit. The veteran officer’s voice then broke as he told jurors “there was no way for (the truck) to miss Chad at all.”
Lewers said he saw the truck strike Mr. Key and and he rushed over to help his co-worker. He said a DPS sergeant was already there applying first aid and he, Lewers, stopped and talked to Mr. Key. “His eyes were open and when he started to close them, I would yell at him and tell him to stay with me.”
The training officer said he couldn’t tell how fast the truck that struck Mr. Key was going.
“It sounded like it was flying,” he said.
Lewers told Riddels no one told Mr. Key to direct traffic the way he was doing the night he died. “We all pretty much know what to do. We just know what needs to be done, and we do it,” he said. When Riddels asked if there weren’t many things he would do differently in hind sight, Lewers agreed that there were.
Matt Gibbs testified that Stanley was living with him at the time of the wreck that claimed Mr. Key’s life. Gibbs said Stanley said he needed a new place to live and since Gibbs, an oil well worker, was gone a lot of the time and needed some work done around his place, he allowed Stanley to move in. In exchange, he said, Stanley paid half the electric bill and worked on fences. Gibbs said he and Stanley worked on fences on the day of the wreck before stopping to get cleaned up to go, with Gibbs’ girlfriend to a crawfish boil. Gibbs said the three had a beer before they left and then went across the river to get half a case of beer to take to the boil. They drank some on the way there and had some more when they got there.
Gibbs said they left the boil and went home where he went to bed and assumed that Stanley had done the same thing. He said he didn’t give Stanley permission to take his F-350 out that night. He said he woke the next morning to find both the truck and Stanley missing. He didn’t learn what had happened until Stanley’s brother called the next night. Gibbs said he hadn’t talked to or seen Stanley since the night of the wreck.