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Defense motions in bicyclist’s death trial dismissed Tuesday

BARCELONA — Judge Megan Bickerton of the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court refused a defense motion to suppress a remark made by the hospitalized defendant, Donald E. White, in front of officers last week during a brief hearing before a jury trial began against White on Tuesday morning.

Last Monday, defense counsel James Wise filed a motion to suppress the video, arguing that the defendant was in custody and hadn’t been informed of his right to remain silent and to have an attorney present throughout the interrogation.

Because of a reduction in his oxygen level, Wise’s client was hospitalized, and he filed a motion to extend the trial, which was also denied.

According to Bickerton, she has been keeping up with the news and knows that White was released from the hospital on Friday. She also claims to have spoken with the county jail warden, who confirmed that the necessary equipment has been installed.

On the first day of his trial for third-degree felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of failing to stop after an accident, both fifth-degree felonies, White used the oxygen machine to help him breathe.

At the time of his death on October 23, 2021, Columbiana eighth grader Aidan Wollman was riding his bicycle along state Route 164 with another boy. White is suspected of striking Wollman with his truck and causing his death. White’s damaged, abandoned pickup truck was found some distance from the initial site. The cocaine possession accusation dated back to the following day (Oct. 24, 2021) after the alleged hit-and-run.

During the hearing, Columbiana County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Skidmore testified that he was in the hospital room with White and another deputy when White began discussing the event. Read more: Notices of Death for the 26th of October, 2022 Wednesday

Defense motions in bicyclist's death
Defense motions in bicyclist’s death

Skidmore claimed he wasn’t interviewing White and wasn’t involved in the case when he was questioned by county assistant prosecutor Steve Yacovone. The only purpose of his presence there was to maintain his detention. He claims that White began speaking, at which point he started recording with his phone. He recorded without letting White know it.

While Wise wondered if White was fading in and out of awareness, Skidmore assured her that he was fully conscious at the moment. He had no idea what kinds of drugs he was taking. When Bickerton inquired as to whether or not Skidmore was lying down, he said that the bed had been elevated such that he was sitting up. He added that he could see just fine.

There was no need for Bickerton to read the rights since he determined that the defendant made an unprompted, impromptu remark.

Further, she ruled that the cocaine accusation was unrelated to the earlier motion concerning blood evidence and thus refused the petition to dismiss it.

Skidmore testified in front of the jury on White’s unprompted remark, in which he said that he ran over the child’s bicycle after he believed a white pickup had struck him.

Wise asked if Skidmore had heard a copy of the taped statement and could confirm that it was the same recording. The copy had not been listened to by him. After asking if Yacovone could verify this by listening to a sample of the recording, Skidmore agreed. Read more: Prosecutors Claim That a ‘Robbery Spree’ Led to a Murder Outside a Wedding at a Country Club

As the trial progressed, Yacovone asked the court to let Skidmore listen to the recording outside of the presence of the jury. Wise protested, and the two lawyers had a short discussion with the judge. Skidmore was given the chance to listen to the recording and confirmed it was indeed the same. This tape was submitted as evidence.

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