The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday December 4th

Prosecution concludes witness testimony in Kania trial

The jury heard from N.C. State Trooper Fred Trueblood, Sgt. John Collins of the N.C. Highway Patrol and Deputy Chris Bentley of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say Kania was driving drunk on the wrong side of I-85 when he hit a car. The crash killed three people: Darlene McGee, 46, Felecia Harris, 49, and Jahnice Beard, 6.

Kania, now 21, pleaded guilty to various charges. He pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and one count of reckless driving.

Roger Smith Jr., one of Kania’s attorneys, tried to cast doubt on Trueblood’s crash reconstruction. He discussed the police report, including why Trueblood didn’t estimate the Jeep’s pre-collision speed.

Trueblood said the calculation called for too many assumptions, so he went by eyewitness accounts of Kania’s speed.

Jeff Nieman, assistant district attorney, showed the jury a video Kania made in high school warning of the dangers of texting and driving. The video ended with a shot of Kania leaning on the same Jeep Wrangler involved in the crash.

Bentley, the first responder to the crash scene, was the last witness put on the stand by the prosecution. He arrived and helped Jahnia King, now 11, the only survivor other than Kania.

“Her body from her waist up was hanging out through the front passenger window,” Bentley said. “So I went in and tried to take the weight off of her and grabbed a hold of her, and tried to comfort her until we got more people on the scene.”

Nieman showed the jury a five minute recording, which included video from Bentley’s dashboard camera and audio from a microphone on his belt.

The audio clip, which Smith described as gut-wrenching, included King’s screams for help and repeated honking from Kania’s horn.

After the prosecution rested its case, Judge Henry W. Hight Jr. called on Kania, who said he won’t take the stand.


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