Driver in fatal crash was '100 percent on the accelerator,' prosecutor says

COVINGTON, Ky. -- Daniel Greis' defense team continued trying to shift some responsibility for the deaths of five people last October during the final day of testimony in his murder trial Tuesday.

Greis is charged in the deaths of five members of the Pollitt family. Investigators said he was drunk, had marijuana in his system and was speeding when he crashed into the Pollitts' car on Staffordsburg Road.

Accident reconstructionist Neil Gilbreath testified Tuesday. He described how Greis crossed the double-yellow line and hit the Pollitts' car head-on.

Greis has accepted responsibility, but his attorneys want that shared with Jesse Phillips, who had been involved in a road rage incident with Greis. They said Phillips wouldn't let Greis pass him, leading to the crash.

"I believe that Mr. Phillips is what we could consider to be 'a non-contact vehicle,' which is a contributing factor but it's not physically involved in the crash," he said. "In other words, his car didn't get hit by anything, any flying debris. He didn't hit anything, and what's why it's called 'a non-contact vehicle.'"

Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders wasn't buying the defense's argument about Phillips. He contended Greis dropped behind Phillips to get a run on him to pass. According to prosecutors, Greis floored it and was traveling at 86 mph when he hit the other car. 

"When Mr. Greis made the decision to go 100 percent on the accelerator, rather than 100 person on the brake, he took away whatever chance the Pollitts had of surviving, didn't he?" Sanders asked Gilreath.

"Yes, I said that was a very poor decision on his part," Gilreath answered.

Sanders maintained that Greis traveled a quarter-mile on the wrong side of the double-yellow line.

"But, if Mr. Greis had hit the brakes and stopped short of the crash scene, that would have given Mr. Pollitt at least a chance to avoid the collision, correct?" he asked Gilreath.

"Yes," Gilreath said.

But no brakes were applied. Gilreath said that Greis could have stopped before the crash. 

Jurors will have two days to think about what they heard in court before their deliberations begin because Judge Patricia Summe is not available Wednesday or Thursday.

Neither the commonwealth's attorney nor the defense team objected to the delay. Each side said they'd be ready to make their closing arguments at 9 a.m. Friday.

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