Trial begins for man charged with killing three

February 20, 2004|Liz Maples

LIBERTY --- The trial of a man who killed three senior citizens when he drove his car head-on into theirs while high on an anti-anxiety medicine, a suicide attempt, began here Thursday.

Leon Scott has been charged with murder for the November 2002 accident. Testimony is expected to conclude today with the defense's witnesses. Scott's attorney, Donald Thomas, said in opening statements that he will prove that Scott was insane.

Pictures of the accident scene, showing luggage shoved from the trunk into the back seat and one of the victims being extracted were shown in the courtroom. The gold Nissan driven by Scott was crumpled, it's windshield criss-crossed with cracks and the front hood peeled back from the engine.

State troopers and Casey County emergency medical workers described the scene in court. Mary Reynolds was dead, covered with a sheet.


Her husband, Robert Reynolds, was trapped in the car for 55 minutes before emergency workers could get him out. He was conscious and complained of chest and leg pain. The airbags had deployed, so Freda Dorman, a paramedic, said it was obvious he was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Dorman said of the hundreds of wrecks she's seen, this one of the top five most severe.

Robert Reynolds had bruises on his chest and there was a three-inch open wound from his knee to his ankle, Dorman said, revealing muscle, fat and metal from a knee surgery.

His sister-in-law's friend, Robert Miller, who is from Ohio, was alert and trapped in the car for 40 minutes. He had leg and chest pain and had a large scrape on his left hand.

Both Miller and Robert Reynolds were airlifted to University of Kentucky Hospital, but later died from their injuries.

Elizabeth Thompson, Mary Reynolds sister, survived the crash with multiple injuries and testified Thursday. The two couples had spent a few days playing games and going out at a time-share in Clarksville, Tenn. They were on their way back to the Reynolds' home in Stanford on U.S. 127 when their car was hit by Scott's.

Thompson told the jury that she had never been to the hospital before the crash. At 71, she spent six months in hospitals and treatment centers trying to recover from the crash. She had two rods put in her arm and leg, and will have to use a cane to climb stairs and inclines for the rest of her life.

She used to live near her friend, Miller, in Dayton, Ohio, and they spent time together every day, she said. They spent so much time together that Miller had to give up golf, Thompson said, drawing a laugh from the courtroom. Since the accident she has had to move closer to her brothers in Ohio.

"I miss him," she said.

Before Thompson testified, the prosecution played a 30-minute tape of a state police detective's interview of Scott, when he described the events before the crash.

Scott, a construction worker, had come home from work on Friday, Nov. 8 and found that his wife, Carolyn, had taken her things and their two boys, Hagan, 10, and Logan, 5. She left a note, saying she was leaving.

He went to look for her at his sister-in-law's double-wide mobile home in Moreland. Carolyn Scott was there with her sister, Stephanie Burgess.

Scott had recently been discharged from an eight-day stay at Lake Cumberland Hospital for major depression and suicidal thoughts.

He told the detective that his wife had been having an affair and they'd had marital difficulties. He was taking prescribed anti-depressants and an anti-anxiety medication, Klonopin.

After arguing with his wife, he took more than 100 Klonopin and said he drove towards a hill off of Ky. 550 where he and his wife and spent time while dating. He said he thought he was headed there to die.

Scott covered his face, while the tape played, and shook with crying.

His psychiatrist would later testify that the number of Klonopin he took was not fatal.

He said Burgess told him that she loved him and asked him not to kill himself.

"I told her, 'It's too late, my goose is cooked,'" Scott said on the tape. "I told her I love her and her husband ... she wasn't going to keep me (from driving off.)"

Burgess had called an ambulance and testified that she was trying to keep him at the house.

Scott said the next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital.

Scott's psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Seigel, who prescribed his medication, testified for the prosecution that he didn't believe that Scott was insane. He said that Scott suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts, which were mood disorders, but that Scott hadn't "lost contact with reality."

Thomas, the defense attorney, pointed out that insane was not a medical term, but a legal one.

Scott has been admitted to three different hospitals for mental problems, and Seigal said that a day before one session his wife had taken his gun away because she feared he would kill himself.

Seigel told the jury that if someone had taken more than 100 Kolopin it would cause severe drowsiness and a "twilight" state where the person is in a kind of trance. The dosage, he said, is not fatal, but he believed that Scott was attempting suicide.

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