Prosecutors try to prove man accused in fatal hit-and-run was driving car

Posted at 4:56 PM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 22:15:45-04

CINCINNATI -- Prosecutors are trying to prove that the man accused of hitting a woman in a hit-and-run crash was actually behind the wheel.

Thomas Stidhum, 25, is facing four charges in the death of Cathy Chatfield, 57, who was running in the 2015 Seven Hills Run/Walk when a speeding car jumped the curb and hit her.

Police said Stidhum abandoned the car and ran from the scene. But his lawyer said Wednesday that a witness to the crash can't be located to testify. So prosecutors brought four witnesses to the stand Thursday, seeking to prove Stidhum was the driver of the 2005 Chrysler 300 at the time of the crash.

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Catherin Barwick, the mother of two children with Stidhum, said she saw him driving the car Dec. 5, just one day before the deadly crash. Barwick hadn't known the car was involved in the crash until she saw it on the news, she said.

Two days earlier, surveillance video and pictures show Stidhum at Alfred Motors car dealership to make a payment on the car.

Jurors also heard video testimony from a forensic scientist who explained how the DNA evidence from a soda bottle and a bloody sheet of paper found at the crash scene both matched Stidhum. The defense tried to poke holes in the testimony, questioning if some of the DNA evidence from the scene was not a definite match.

Police said that Stidhum removed the car's license plates and ran after he hit Chatfield. He wasn't arrested until a month later. Prosecutors played 911 calls in court Wednesday that included callers describing the driver running from the scene. 

The trial will continue at 10 a.m. Friday. Prosecutors plan to bring another Cincinnati police officer and someone from the Hamilton County Coroner's Office to testify.