Judge says Bisard blood draw admissible for trial

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FORT WAYNE – A judge says blood evidence showing that suspended Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer David Bisard was intoxicated when he crashed into a group of motorcyclists in August 2010 is admissible in his trial.

Bisard returned to court Wednesday to fight evidence in his deadly drunk driving case. Judge John Surbeck is considering approximately 20 motions, most of them filed by Bisard, to suppress evidence before the jury. He was driving his squad car when he ran into a group of motorcyclists, killing Eric Wells and severely injuring two others.

In a significant ruling, Surbeck denied a defense motion to strike one of the blood samples taken from Bisard on the day of the crash. Analysis of blood vial 1 indicated that Bisard tested at more than twice the legal limit in Indiana.

That blood evidence was originally thrown out on a technicality. In December 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the evidence was admissible. The Indiana Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal on that decision. The vial showed that Bisard had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 at the time of the crash.

“That man was highly intoxicated,” said Aaron Wells, Eric Wells’ father. “It’s a part of the case and I hope that it goes through.”

Testimony continued as to the admissibility of blood vial 2, which was to be tested for the presence of other drugs. That vial was left unrefrigerated in an IMPD property room annex for five months. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry took the stand to testify about his knowledge of the mishandling of the second vial.

Curry testified that he sent a letter to Mayor Greg Ballard in May 2012 to express his concerns about the access former deputy Public Safety Director Ellen Corcella and Sgt. Dawn Higgins gained to blood vial 2 the month before. Curry told Ballard the examination of blood vial 2 would raise “chain of custody issues” for the defense.

“They were reckless and irresponsible,” Curry told Ballard regarding then-Public Safety Director Frank Straub’s and Corchella’s oversight of the blood vial 2 examination. He said the director and his chief deputy should be fired.

Asked about his testimony, Curry declined to offer further elaboration.

“I was obviously here today subpoenaed as a witness by the defense and provided my testimony pursuant that subpoena and in context today, I don’t think I should say anything further,” he said.

Earlier in court Wednesday, Denise Robinson, chief trial deputy for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, told the judge that she was secretly taped on two occasions by investigators working for Straub.

Those recordings pertained to evidence, facts and trial strategy in the case against Bisard, who is on trial for reckless homicide in connection with a 2010 alleged drunk driving accident that killed one motorcyclist and injured two others in Indianapolis.

Robinson told Surbeck that she was recorded without her knowledge either by Corcella or Higgins, a detective in the special investigations unit operated by Straub.

Those conversations were conducted over the phone and one was in the conference room of the Marion County prosecutor when they were surreptitiously taped in May 2012. One month earlier, Robinson became aware of the alleged mishandling of a vial of Bisard’s blood slated for alcohol testing.

Aaron Wells said the recordings are another indication of how the case has been mishandled.

“I’ve always thought it was a conspiracy on behalf of the police department protecting its own. I mean, why are we here?” Wells asked.

Surbeck told Robinson and Higgins that he would like to read transcripts of both taped recordings as soon as possible. Defense attorney John Kautzman is seeking to introduce both transcripts into the trial. Surbeck told attorneys for both sides that this case has “crossed the boundaries” of typical case preparation.

Bisard’s case has been moved to Fort Wayne due to pre-trial publicity. The four-week long trial is expected to begin in mid-October.