Wilkins Jury Hears Drug Expert Testimony

Experts agreed Wednesday that Scott Wilkins had a remnant of marijuana in his system Dec. 27, 2014, the night Kami Ellis died in the car he wrecked.

Wilkins, 37, of 136 N. Main St., Milford, crashed a Nissan 350Z Dec. 27, 2014, and left Ellis, 27, Nappanee, to die in the burning vehicle. He was charged with reckless homicide, leaving the scene of an accident causing injury and causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule I or II substance in the blood. It is illegal to operate a vehicle in any capacity with any trace of marijuana in the body in the state of Indiana.

During the third day of a five-day jury trial, two representatives from Great Lakes Labs, Valparaiso, confirmed that the drug testing procedure for Wilkins’ blood was carried out under protocol and without error. Wilkins’ blood was drawn at Kosciusko Community Hospital after 7 a.m. Dec. 27, 2014, and then sent to Great Lakes Labs. Both witnesses testified that the results of the tests were accurate. Great Lakes Labs is a nationally accredited firm.

Prosecuting attorney Karin McGrath called on Sheila Arnold to provide deposition. Arnold, of the Indiana State Department of Toxicology, provided the court with information on how marijuana is processed in the body. She said that when marijuana is ingested, tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical taken into the body. THC is not water soluble, meaning that it cannot be filtered through urine. The body then changes THC into an inactive metabolite, which can be passed into urine and blood, while the active THC is typically stored in fat cells in the body, such as the brain. The inactive metabolite is most often found in blood and urine well after active THC has left the two.

Based on the results from the lab, Arnold advised that Wilkins had the inactive metabolite in both his urine and blood. She was unable to determine how long that chemical was present, and could not estimate when Wilkins had ingested the marijuana.

Wilkins’ attorney Mark Caruso brought in Dr. Daniel McCoy, an independent toxicologist. McCoy has been a toxicologist in some capacity since the 1970s, and is considered an expert in his field. He received Wilkins’ test results from Caruso later in 2015. He confirmed what Arnold had said, that THC is not water soluble and that the body has to change the chemical to process it. He said that THC quickly left the blood stream after smoking, which is the typical procedure for ingesting marijuana. It leaves the blood stream and is replaced by the inactive metabolite in the blood and urine.

He was also not able to determine when Wilkins’ had ingested marijuana, or if Wilkins was high at the time of the crash. There were roughly seven hours between the accident and the drug tests. McCoy also stated that Wilkins had alcohol in his urine sample, but could not say when he had ingested it.

McGrath also had Kosciusko County Sheriff Department’s Chris McKeand testify. McKeand, who is a member of the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team, helped reconstruct the crash to determine its causing factors. Based on McKeand’s knowledge, Wilkins would have had to be travelling between 86 to 95 mph when he hit the first tree, as the engine of the 350Z was thrown 360 feet from the place of impact. The car then travelled another 137 feet before stopping.

Yaw marks on the road from the car’s tires helped determine the trajectory of the incident. McKeand said that while every road and surface have different frictional values, he was confident that his calculations were as close to accurate as possible. He drew a depiction of the crash scene on a whiteboard to explain the situation to the jury. McKeand was present at the scene the night of the crash, and documented his approach for the reconstruction.
Closing arguments began this morning, with a possible testimony from Wilkins. The trial is scheduled to end by tomorrow.