Surviving officers testify at Cozmanoff trial

2013-12-02T18:15:00Z 2013-12-12T13:58:14Z Surviving officers testify at Cozmanoff trialSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
December 02, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Three surviving correctional officers in a hit-and-run crash that killed a fourth officer testified Monday on the first day of the Jason Cozmanoff trial.

The officers told jurors they planned to work out briefly in the gym in the jail building, then jog the perimeter of the government complex.

Following the workout, the officers met in the north parking lot to the jail, jogging two-by-two until reaching 93rd Avenue, where they began to jog single file on the side of the road.

It was only seconds before they were struck from behind, tossing their bodies into the grass, they told jurors.

"We called (Britney) Meux's name, but she didn't respond," Officer Delano Scaife testified. Meux had outdistanced her fellow officers. Her body later was found partially in the road.

Cozmanoff, 43, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, faces 12 felonies and a misdemeanor in connection to Meux's death and the injuries to fellow officers David Murchek, Latasha Johnson and Scaife.

Cozmanoff is accused of striking the officers with a 2002 GMC Yukon as they jogged east on 93rd Avenue near Main Street in Crown Point about 7 p.m. on March 6, 2012.

It was the first time Scaife and Johnson had joined Meux and Murchek for the run, with Meux in the lead and Murchek in the back, according to testimony.

Meux died at the scene. The three surviving officers Monday described long-term injuries requiring surgery and physical therapy. Scaife told jurors he has not recovered full use of his right arm and continues treatment.

In opening statements, deputy prosecuting attorney Mark Watson told jurors evidence would show Cozmanoff had been drinking and was driving at a high rate of speed when the officers were struck from behind. DNA evidence would link Cozmanoff to the damaged Yukon and Scaife, he said.

Defense attorney James Thiros argued Cozmanoff was not alcohol-impaired by the drinks he had with friends with whom he had gone fishing in East Chicago. Thiros said jurors would hear three different versions of where in the road the officers were when struck. Evidence would show officers failed to follow traffic laws and safety precautions on a dark, wet night, he said.

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