Pretrial wrangling in fatal crash case

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SANDPOINT — Defense counsel for a Sandpoint woman accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash on Highway 200 last year is moving to narrow the amount of evidence jurors will be exposed to in her case.

Brianna Lucille Knapp’s attorneys contend there are inflammatory statements in Idaho State Police documents and the notes kept by a Bonner County sheriff’s detective. The defense argues the probative value of that evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.

There is also concern the remarks in the reports could confuse the issues at trial or mislead jurors.

The comments the defense seeks to keep under wraps are not specified in court documents and a closed-door hearing on the motion is set for April 4.

Idaho State Police said Kurt P. Henson was riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle westbound when he hit an abrupt lane edge in a construction zone west of Clark Fork and crashed. Knapp, who was driving westbound in a Dodge pickup truck, allegedly crashed into the fallen Henson.

Henson, a 47-year-old from Post Falls and an off-duty Spokane Police officer, died at the scene. A passenger on the bike, 43-year-old Kimberly Lenox, was injured but survived the crash.

Although a witness to the crash told state police Knapp’s pickup struck Henson, she is not charged with causing his death. She’s accused of neglecting her duty as a motorist to remain at the scene or render reasonable assistance, such as calling 911.

Knapp pleaded not guilty to the felony charge earlier this year and is free on her own recognizance while the case is pending.

Deputy Public Defender Dan Taylor moved the court for $15,000 in investigative costs to hire a crash reconstructionist in order to provide Knapp with a bona fide defense.

First District Judge Steve Verby, however, conditionally declined the request because the state is not trying to prove Knapp was at fault for the crash.

“Therefore, the material elements which are in dispute do not appear to require the testimony of an accident reconstructionist,” Verby said in a Jan. 18 ruling.

However, Verby said in the motion that he was open to further argument on the defense request.

Knapp’s three-day jury trial is set for May 13.

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