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Trial delayed in traffic fatality case

April 24, 2012

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The trial of a 39-year-old Martinsburg-area man accused of drunken driving in a two-year-old accident that resulted in the death of a Hagerstown woman was rescheduled for Sept. 18 in Berkeley County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The trial for Jeffrey Wayne McKinney of 126 Ramblin Lane was postponed due to questions concerning the admissability of expert witness testimony for the 39-year-old man’s defense.

McKinney was indicted in May 2010 on one count of driving under the influence causing death and failure to yield in a March 18, 2010, crash that claimed the life of Mary Frances Punt, 57.

Punt, who was northbound on U.S. 11 after a church function, died at the scene.

McKinney admitted to drinking five or six beers the night of the accident, according to police records. The crash occurred at about 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Berkeley Station Road.

Presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III said less than two months ago that the case wouldn’t be delayed from starting on Tuesday “unless an act of God” interferes.

Court officers needed more than an hour Tuesday to schedule a new trial date and additional hearings to possibly consider the expert witness testimony issue due to conflicts with other previously scheduled trials and court proceedings.

The expert witness testimony legal issue involves questions about the science behind the Intoxilyzer, a device that is used in DUI investigations, according to Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

Games-Neely has filed motions objecting to allowing testimony by at least two experts for the defense, according to motions filed with the court. 

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— Matthew Umstead

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