Thomas Stidhum's attorney says police have no proof he drove car that hit, killed runner

Testimony lost, witness missing, defense says
Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 22:01:44-04

CINCINNATI – The eyewitness testimony is lost, police say. The passenger who pointed out the accused driver now says police pressured her to do it. 

During opening statements in Thomas Stidhum’s trial, his lawyer said there’s no proof that the 25-year-old was driving the car that killed a 57-year-old runner, Cathy Chatfield, during the Seven Hills Run/Walk in 2015.

“The eyewitness identification that was recorded the day of the accident and the day after the accident is gone,” attorney MJ Hugan told jurors Wednesday.

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Furthermore, the woman believed to have been riding with Stidhum can't be located to testify.

Hugan, holding up a piece of paper, said she's knows why.

“Notarized statement that she was pressured by the police to point him out," Hugan said.  “She was scared. She was a young woman at the scene of an auto accident.”

Prosecutor Chuck Thiemann began his case by describing the crash and portraying Stidhum as heartless and only caring about getting away.

“He didn’t call 911. He didn’t summon help. He didn’t go to her aid. Instead, he put the car in reverse. He tried to drive away,” Thiemann said.

Police say Stidhum was speeding up Dorchester Avenue in Mount Auburn when his Chrysler 300 jumped the curb and struck Chatfield, then hit a wall. Stidhum tried to remove the license plates,  took a backpack from the car and ran.

He wasn’t arrested until a month later.

The prosecution called three witnesses Wednesday including police Sgt. John Heine, who responded to the scene. Heine identified blood on the ground in one of several photos submitted as evidence.

Prosecutors also played 911 calls. Some of the calls described the driver running from the  scene.

Chatfield’s brother testified that she was killed doing what she enjoyed most.

“She had taken up running as a form of exercise to relieve stress and lose some weight and be in better shape,” Thomas Chatfield said.

Stidhum faces four charges: aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, failure to stop following an accident and tampering with evidence.

The trial will continue Thursday morning.