Prosecutor paints grisly picture of Pollitt deaths in murder trial's opening arguments

CINCINNATI -- Daniel Greis, who faces five murder charges in connection to a head-on crash that killed two parents and their children, walked into court Tuesday smiling back at his own family. 

Prosecutors and police said 57-year-old Greis was drunk, high and traveling nearly 100 mph on Staffordsburg Road the night of October 27, 2017, when he swerved into the opposite lane and struck a car carrying Rodney Pollitt Jr., 26; Samantha Malohn, 27; and their three children, Hailieann, Brendan and Callie Pollitt. The children were 9, 8 and 6.

One first responder called the scene "worse than anything Hollywood could dream up."

"Samantha (Malohn) had multiple blunt force injuries," prosecutor Maria Schletker said in her opening argument. "Her arm was amputated, her face was peeled from her body, and she had two broken legs."

Defense attorney Stacey Graus argued that the blame for the incident rested not with Greis but with a third party: A man named Jesse Phillips, with whom Greis had been involved in a "road rage" incident when Phillips refused to allow Greis to pass him.

"He tried passing me, and I sped up because I didn't want him to go around me," Phillips said in pre-recorded clips played by the defense. "I didn't want him passing me. This road isn't made for that."

Schletker said the evidence did not support the defense's supposition that Phillips' behavior was a direct contributor to the crash or that anyone but Greis should be held responsible for the family members' deaths.

"The defendant wasn't just tailing Jesse," she said. "The defendant was so close to Jesse's vehicle that Jesse couldn't see the front of the defendant's car from his rearview mirror."

Greis pleaded not guilty to the five counts of murder in January. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Witness testimony will begin Wednesday.

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