Tyrone man held on charges in death of woman struck by vehicle

A rural Tyrone man, 42-year-old Dennis Jay Miller, was held for trial on charges of criminal homicide, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, vehicular homicide and other charges as a result of his preliminary hearing yesterday.
Miller was charged as a result of an incident on Aug. 27 that happened around 1:20 a.m. along Decker Hollow Road in Snyder Township. Forty-four-year old Anna Theresa Walk was killed after she was allegedly run over by 1991 Mazda Navajo. Defense attorney Thomas Dickey represented the suspect during the hearing before Magisterial Judge Fred Miller.
The prosecution called four witnesses including a woman who lives along Decker Hollow Road. The woman, Pamela K. Daughenbaugh said she heard the squealing of tires and looked out of her second-story bedroom window at the road. She said she saw a vehicle sitting sideways on the road with the rear of the car toward her house with the brake lights illuminated.
She testified she heard the engine being revved on the vehicle and described the car as “jerking up and down.” She said the car was driven backwards and she saw a person hit by the car. She said she saw a body fly and could see “arms and legs.”
Daughenbaugh said the vehicle ended up with its rear end in the woods. She said at that point she noticed the body in front of the vehicle.
Prosecutors also introduced testimony from a pathologist, Harry Kamerow. Attorney Dickey objected to Kamerow being used as an expert witness because he was not sub-certified in forensic pathology. However, Judge Miller overruled Dickey and allowed the testimony.
Kamerow conducted an autopsy on Walk and determined the cause of death as multiple skull fractures that were caused by an automobile/pedestrian accident. He said the body also showed signs of abrasions, scrapes and contusions and had suffered blunt force trauma. He said “a significant event occurred to the head.” He said the head injury was consistent with an automobile/pedestrian accident. He indicated the head injuries and other injuries would have happened at the same time or at different times.
It was also revealed the pathologist had ruled the manner of Walk’s death as undetermined.
An accident reconstruction specialist, David Toohey of the Pennsylvania State Police testified during the preliminary hearing. He said the right rear bumper of the vehicle struck Walk. He said the woman may have been walking or may have been stopped. He also testified the left-front wheel of the vehicle struck the woman’s head. The criminal complaint against Miller said the pathologist had described Walk’s head injuries as “crushing.”
Trooper Robert Colondo also offered testimony during yesterday’s hearing. According to a criminal complaint against Miller, Colondo responded to investigate the incident along with state trooper Robert Lenhart. The criminal complaint said the suspect was observed sitting alongside the road. Trooper Colondo noticed a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on Miller’s breath. He was placed under arrest and taken to Tyrone Hospital where he refused to submit to chemical testing.
State police have alleged Miller was driving under the influence of alcohol when Walk was a passenger in the vehicle. They said both individuals were involved in an argument when Miller abruptly stopped the car broadside in the middle of the road and Walk exited the vehicle and walked away.
Authorities originally charged Miller with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, reckless driving and endangering another person, DUI and other related charges. Authorities then withdrew those charges and refiled them along with a charge of criminal homicide based on what they called additional facts and the findings of the reconstruction from the scene. Authorities said the additional findings resulted in a determination that Miller’s actions were intentional, reckless and negligent, more so than accidental as had previously been alleged.
Defense attorney Dickey asked for a dismissal of all charges. Judge Miller ruled the charges against the suspect be bound over for trial in the Blair County Court of Common Pleas. Miller also denied a request for bail and the suspect was remanded to Blair County Prison where he has been held since his arrest.
Dickey said he was not surprised by the outcome of the hearing since prosecutors have a low burden of proof to establish a prima fascia case. He said he thought the hearing went well since testimony was introduced that was consistent with Walk getting out of the vehicle while it was moving. He said it was also revealed in court that Walk had a blood alcohol content of almost four times the legal limit. The pathologist testified Walk’s BAC was .35.
Dickey said the eyewitness indicated a body seemed to appear out of nowhere when it was hit by the vehicle. He said this could be consistent with the woman getting up off the road after having exited the vehicle.
Dickey said he intended to present evidence which would show his client did not run over Walk intentionally.
Prosecutors Wade Kagarise and Terry Tomassetti handled the proceedings on behalf of Blair County. Neither was available for comment on the case this morning.