FORT WAYNE, Ind.– Another juror had to be dismissed from the David Bisard trial Wednesday because of a conflict with his job.
Judge Surbeck replaced the juror with an alternate, leaving just one alternate remaining on the panel.
With the switch, the jury of twelve is now comprised of seven women and five men.
Wednesday crash reconstruction experts explained the science of the crash that killed one motorcyclist and injured two others.
IMPD crash reconstruction expert Doug Heustis shared his findings with the jury. Heustis measured a 61-foot skid mark at the scene of the crash, a skid mark which was shown in evidence photos presented to the jury.
Jurors also heard from a former crash reconstruction expert for Ford Motor Company who now works as a crash data consultant. Richard Ruth told jurors the evidence showed Bisard was traveling as fast as 76 miles per hour.
Ruth told jurors that Bisard’s reaction that day was “too little, too late.”
Earlier in the day, the judge reprimanded a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for sending out detailed e-mail summaries of witness testimony from the trial to IMPD command staff.
Judge John Surbeck called IMPD Major Greg Bieberich to the stand under oath, ordering him to cease all e-mail communications with other members of the force about the trial.
Lead prosecutor Denise Robinson discovered the issue Tuesday night, after being forwarded a copy of the e-mails. Robinson also forwarded the e-mails to defense attorney John Kautzman.
“We have serious, serious concerns to the extent that this email may have been forwarded to other members of police department, potential witnesses on both sides, and whether the info was privy to witnesses before they testified,” Kautzman said.
Robinson told the judge she did not believe any witnesses were on the distribution list, but said at least one witness may have been forwarded the mail.
After learning of the communications, Judge Surbeck said he wanted to call the officer to the stand.
“That’s the first thing,” Surbeck said. “Who’s writing the damn emails? And is he currently here this morning?”
Surbeck then called Bieberich to the stand to testify under oath.
“This is to cease immediately,” he told Bieberich, who had been in the gallery for the entire trial, taking notes.
“In my mind, it’s nothing that taints the witnesses,” Robinson said. “(But) it certainly has an appearance I don’t like, and that’s why we told them to stop it.”
“It’s about as unprofessional as anything I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a lot of things about the IMPD,” said Judge Surbeck. “Maybe it’s time the chief of police appeared here to tell us what’s going on under oath. Don’t know if that’s necessary or not but it’s one alternative.”
“To the extent this was done perhaps inadvertently and indirectly, I can understand his response,” said Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry. “It’s unfortunate this happened and we’ll do what we need to do. We did the appropriate thing by immediately letting the defense know what we learned.”
Bieberich had no comment as he left the courtroom. Curry said the prosecution did not think witness statements had been tainted as a result of the communication.