Man testifies to following truck that dragged boy, 3

Driver halted briefly before pulling away, he says

October 31, 2007|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,Sun reporter

Reginald Amos was on his way to a video rental store in the Towson area when, he said, he saw a red truck run down a grandmother pushing a stroller across the road and keep going.

He testified yesterday in court that he called 911, followed the truck and told the driver to wait when she briefly pulled over in a neighborhood about a mile from the crash scene.

"I was telling them, `Hold up,'" Amos told the judge hearing the case of the woman charged in the dragging death of the toddler who was in the stroller.

Lazara Arellano de Hogue, 41, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run in the Dec. 1 crash that left 3-year-old Elijah Cozart dead and his grandmother, Marjorie Thomas, seriously injured.

Second day of trial

Yesterday marked the second day of Arellano de Hogue's trial, which is scheduled to resume today with testimony from the Baltimore County police officers who investigated the accident.

Arellano de Hogue has quietly watched the proceedings unfolding in court. A pair of court interpreters with headsets have been translating the testimony and the remarks of the judge and attorneys into Spanish for the defendant and her brothers - all of whom wear similar headsets.

Amos, of Baltimore, told the judge that he saw the red truck strike Thomas and the stroller she was pushing without realizing that there was a child inside. He followed the truck from Goucher Boulevard to Loch Raven Boulevard and then to Regester Avenue, where, Amos said, he told the driver to wait before she got back in the truck and drove off.

On cross-examination, Amos acknowledged that he does not speak Spanish. He said he spoke to the driver in English.

It was on Regester Avenue that Amos - along with a resident, who also testified, and then the police - found the mangled stroller and the boy.

A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy of the toddler testified this week that the child suffered severe injuries consistent with his skin, bones and some of his internal organs being scraped along pavement for a sustained period.

Witnesses to the accident have testified that the driver who struck the woman and her grandson did not appear to brake or swerve to avoid the pair, who were crossing Goucher Boulevard near Colbury Road but were not in a crosswalk.

With the stroller jammed in the well of the front passenger-side wheel, the boy was dragged nearly a mile before he and the carriage were dislodged along Regester Avenue, according to court testimony and charging documents.

Ghislaine Eichhorn, who lives in the 1500 block of Regester Ave., testified that she had just returned home about 3:20 that afternoon when she heard tires squealing - a noise so loud and prolonged that she thought for sure it would be followed by the sound of a crash.

"But I didn't," she said.

Instead, Eichhorn went outside, where, she said, she saw a red truck and two women, including one holding an infant. The older woman was on the driver's side of the truck and was looking at the front and side of the truck, Eichhorn testified.

"Within a fraction of a second, she jumped back in the truck," she testified. And as the older woman quickly backed up the truck, the younger woman hopped in, Eichhorn testified.

"I was very surprised because I didn't know why they were leaving so fast," she told the judge.

Saw child moving

Moments later, Eichhorn tearfully said, she saw what she initially thought were grocery bags in the grass. It was the 3-year-old boy. He was moving his head from side to side and waving his arms up and down, Eichhorn testified.

On cross-examination, she acknowledged that she had not written in her statement to police that the toddler was moving when she found him.

The case is being heard by Circuit Judge John O. Hennegan. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Arellano de Hogue could receive up to 25 years in prison.


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