Suspect in runner's death claimed he wasn't even in the car

Thomas Stidhum arrested after Cathy Chatfield died
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 07:55:42-04

CINCINNATI -- Thomas Stidhum told police he was asleep and nowhere near the car that hit and killed Cathy Chatfield in Mount Auburn more than a year ago.

Stidhum, 25, faces four charges in Chatfield's death: aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, failure to stop following an accident and tampering with evidence. Chatfield, 57, was taking part in the Seven Hills Run/Walk when a Chrysler 300 jumped a curb on Dorchester Avenue and hit her from behind Dec. 5, 2015.


Tuesday was the first time jurors heard from Stidhum himself, though he didn't take the stand: They saw a video recording of his interview with police the day he was arrested, a month after the crash.

"When that thing happened I wasn't inside that car, I wasn't outside that car, I wasn’t even around that car," he told police.

After the video, Cincinnati police investigators testified with photos explaining the extent of damage at the crash scene. Crash reconstruction experts explained the driver hit an embankment, a pole, Chatfield and a wall before coming to a stop.

"Based on everything I see here and everything I did that day, the vehicle, in my opinion, was traveling at least 50 mph," Cincinnati Police Officer John Halusek said.

On Wednesday, prosecutors plan to play jailhouse phone calls from Stidhum; they claim the calls reveal he intended to "plot and plan" to beat the case.

But when it comes to absolutely identifying Stidhum as the driver, the defense continues to revisit an important piece of missing evidence: video interviews with eyewitnesses.

"Some of the tape recordings of the witnesses and people who were there were made, but (we're) not sure if they were destroyed or not properly taped," Police Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer said.

Last week, prosecutors brought four witnesses to the stand, seeking to prove Stidhum was the driver. Two days before the fatal crash, prosecutors say surveillance video and pictures show Stidhum at Alfred Motors car dealership to make a payment on the car.


Jurors also heard video testimony last week 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.

In opening arguments, defense attorney MJ Hugan told jurors the woman believed to have been riding with Stidhum can't be located to testify. Hugan said a notarized statement indicates police pressured the woman to point Stidhum out.

"She was scared," Hugan said. "She was a young woman at the scene of an auto accident."