Published September 28. 2012 3:00PM Updated September 28. 2012 11:37PM
An expert in motor vehicle accident reconstruction testified for the defense at the Kevin Bialowas murder trial Friday that Stephen Germano appeared to have jumped onto the hood of Bialowas' pickup truck on a Norwich street three years ago rather than attempting to move out of the way.
Bialowas, 48, of Lisbon is accused of intentionally striking Germano, 33, with his Ford F-150 pickup truck on July 14, 2009. Germano died of blunt traumatic injuries.
Defense attorney John E. Franckling called as his only witness John Swanson, a former Bloomfield police officer who now owns and operates a company called Collision Dynamics in East Granby. Swanson, who said he has conducted more than 5,000 investigations, testified that he reviewed the case file, including police and witness reports and photographs of the incident, before coming to that conclusion.
Swanson inspected smear marks left on the pickup truck's hood by Germano, who had driveway sealant on his clothing and body from a job he had completed that day, according to earlier testimony. Swanson said the contact occurred in the middle of the truck's 6-foot-wide hood.
He said Germano could have moved 3 feet in either direction to avoid being struck.
"Presumably, had he reacted quick enough, I can envision he had a choice to make," Swanson testified. "He chose to jump on the truck rather than move to the side or get away."
Germano, upset that his girlfriend Jennifer Sanford had chosen Bialowas over him, had followed Bialowas and Sanford from Sanford's Baltic home, according to earlier testimony. He got out of the car to confront them and stood in the middle of the street.
Sanford earlier this week testified that Bialowas backed up his pickup truck, then put it in gear, cursed, and drove toward Germano. She said Germano jumped on the hood rather than move out of the way. She said he fell off the hood when Bialowas jerked the wheel.
Patricia Twomey, a local resident who witnessed the accident from her second-story window, said it appeared the pickup truck's driver had "gunned it" and that she didn't see any movement from the person who was struck.
Attorneys for Bialowas and the state will deliver closing arguments in the case on Monday. The 12-member jury will begin deliberating after receiving instruction from Judge Arthur C. Hadden.