A defense expert for Diane Anderson testified that her husband safely passed northbound over the double yellow lines in his 2015 Acura MDX just before an unidentified vehicle passed southbound and caused a triple-fatal J-59 collision in October 2016.
John Tyson, a traffic accident reconstructionist from A R Tech Forensic Experts, said it was plausible Danny Anderson did not cause the collision because, according to his calculations, the Acura passed back into the northbound lane approximately three seconds before a southbound Lexus RX300 reached the collision site.
Tyson’s testimony was a subject to multiple points of contention from both counsel as to where Danny Anderson began to pass over the double yellow lines into the southbound lane, how fast he completed the pass of a Toyota Camry and a Ford Windstar and how far the oncoming Lexus was from him when he returned to the northbound lane.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg directed Tyson to calculate the data supporting his rendition of the pass in front of the jury and indicated that his original assumption that Danny Anderson began the pass at Bonds Flat Road did not match Danny Anderson’s testimony earlier that morning.
Anderson estimated he started passing more than 200 feet north of the spot Tyson said — 10 to 20 feet south of Las Armomitas Road (the access point for the Hacienda, an office building for the Lake Don Pedro resident association) — and about 200 feet south of a California Highway Patrol estimate.
Tyson said based on a speed of 55 miles per hour, Anderson would have traveled approximately 900 feet in 10 seconds.
A report conducted by the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team indicated the Andersons’ Acura MDX would have had to travel approximately 958 feet in 9.12 seconds to pass the Camry and the Ford Windstar in front of it and return to the northbound lane.
After Anderson passed, a white Lexus RX300 driven by 16-year-old Trista Hoffman and a white Toyota Camry driven by Dorothy Eisemann collided, killing Trista, her mother, Tina, Dorothy Eisemann’s husband, Rheinholt. Trista’s brother Dillon and her best friend Annie Johnson were injured.
The MAIT report was completed with testimony from Eisemann and Dillon Hoffman.
Tyson noted that the reliability of witness estimates meant there were variances in the legitimacy of the reconstructions, adding that if Anderson traveled faster or a shorter distance, he would have returned to the northbound lane with more time.
Two animated reconstructions, one showing Anderson’s northbound pass and another showing a southbound vehicle which defense witness Christina Hodge testified passed her and the Lexus RX300 to cause the collision, were not shown to the jury.
Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Kevin Siebert said the animated reconstructions of the two passes did not correlate with witness testimony in Diane Anderson’s trial for accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter and would not be shown to the jury.
“The video isn’t anywhere close to a match,” Siebert said and added that the southbound animations was “nothing like the testimony the jury has heard.”
Tyson said he used testimony from Hodge, Joe Zertuche (a witness to Anderson passing) and Anderson’s statements to his attorneys to create his reconstructions.
Danny Anderson”s estimations, that it took five to 10 seconds to pass while going at least 65 miles per hour, correlated with his reconstruction, Tyson said.
Danny Anderson said he put the “pedal to the metal.”
Tyson assumed certain data acquired by MAIT — including the location of the collision, the order of the northbound vehicles and the speed of the Camry — as correct in his analysis.
Tyson said the reconstruction of the southbound pass was made independent of the Anderson pass, but both could still occur.
“It’s just going to be closer,” Tyson said while not in the presence of the jury.
Under questioning from Krieg, Danny Anderson said he did not remember seeing a vehicle heading southbound in the northbound lane toward him after he passed.
Tyson was paid approximately $15,000 by defense attorneys representing the Andersons since he began working on the case nearly two years ago, he said.
Danny Anderson completed his testimony Thursday morning, further alleging that Diane Anderson assisted him with medical aid and reaffirming his belief that the pass did not cause the collision.
“I take full responsibility. I was tired,” Anderson said, continuing, “I made a big mistake, I crossed the double yellow lines. It was a big mistake, but it did not cause the accident.”
Danny Anderson told Krieg that his failure to tell CHP officers on scene that he passed one of the vehicles in the collision, just seconds before it occurred, was because he was attempting to be concise with the officers.
“At the time, I gave the best answers I could,” he said.
Siebert ruled that Danny Anderson’s conviction for triple manslaughter, reckless driving and hit and run would not be revealed to the jury, noting it was his intention to keep the jury from knowing that fact when he moved the trial from Tuolumne County to San Joaquin County.
He also said it was “wishful thinking” and “did not give the jury enough credit” to infer they might know something because of the multiple references to past proceedings.
“We’re doing a lot of things on the fly. That’s what makes trials challenging, and interesting, and difficult,” Siebert said.
Krieg had requested that Danny Anderson admit he was found guilty of five felonies, or have the jury receive a limiting instruction when they entered into deliberations noting they could not use the information against Diane Anderson when considering her charges.
The jury has not been informed of Danny Anderson’s conviction or his current status. The prosecution must prove Danny Anderson committed a felony as a component of proving Diane Anderson is guilty as an accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter.
Siebert temporarily rejected the designation of a defense expert which Diane Anderson attorney Roger Nuttall said would attest to the accuracy of both accident reconstruction experts for using estimates in their analysis and criticize the inadequacy of CHP reports.
Siebert referred to the potential expert as an “undue consumption of time,” but said he could be called Friday if the prosecution’s expert, CHP Investigator Robert Shaw did not acknowledge he used estimates in his analysis.
The defense said they expected to call Diane Anderson to the stand on Friday. They also plan to recall CHP Officer Joelle McChesney, accident aftermath witnesses George Perez and Joseph Hoffman, and three to four character witnesses.