Man found not guilty of drunken driving Judge renders his verdict after he visits scene of arrest during lunch break

September 19, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Reese farmer was acquitted of drunken driving yesterday after a Carroll County circuit judge made a lunchtime trip to where a state trooper stopped the man last summer.

Theodore Pond, 38, said after yesterday's trial that he was pleased Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. "looked at [the evidence] from every angle."

Burns heard testimony in the one-day trial during the morning and made certain that prosecutor Jerry Joyce and J. Barry Hughes, a Westminster attorney representing Pond, had no objections to his visiting the area along Old Westminster Pike where the defendant had been pulled over.

Tfc. Douglas W. Reitz, who was named Maryland Trooper of the Year for 1996, testified that about 10: 45 p.m. Aug. 21, 1996, he saw a truck driven by Pond towing an 8-foot-wide utility trailer on Old Westminster Pike.

The trooper said he saw the trailer's wheels cross the center line about 10 times before he stopped the vehicle.

Pond, who acknowledged drinking three beers at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Westminster between 9 p.m. and 10: 30 p.m., said he pulled over at the first safe opportunity.

Reitz said Pond failed field sobriety tests after telling the officer he would have a hard time doing the test even if he was sober.

Pond told the judge he meant that he would have trouble performing the test because he has a problem with his feet and walks with a limp.

After visiting the area of the traffic stop, Burns said he saw one place where Pond could have pulled over -- at the entrance to the Tara Oaks development -- before he stopped at a farm driveway near Reese.

Burns recalled that the trooper had said the roadway was normal width -- "as wide as the lanes on Route 97" -- but the road had no shoulder.

The judge said he found the road to be very narrow along the stretch in question, and narrower than the lanes on Route 97.

In rendering his verdict, Burns said he had reasonable doubt about whether the defendant was intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol.

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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