Sunday, Oct 26, 2014
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Defendant takes stand in DUI manslaughter trial

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BROOKSVILLE - Karen Macchione said Nov. 8, 2011 started out as a typical day. She woke up at 5 a.m. to fix her children breakfast and get them off to school. Macchione took a shower, put on makeup and started running errands for the day.

She spent about 20 minutes at the Aviation Loop post office, then got back in her gray Dodge Ram truck and started driving west on Spring Hill Drive.

Macchione's attorney, Timothy Smith, asked what happened after she left the post office.

"I got in an accident," Macchione said through tears.

On the second day of testimony, Macchione, who is charged with DUI manslaughter, took the stand to testify in her own defense.

Evidence and witness testimony shows that back in 2011, Macchione hit an orange construction barrel, then Steven Thompson, who was part of the work crew along Spring Hill Drive, just east of the Suncoast Parkway. Thompson died from his injuries soon after the crash.

Macchione said she heard her phone ring just before the accident, and when she "looked down for a second" she felt the "pull of her truck."

"It all happened so fast," Macchione said, crying and increasingly becoming upset.

"And I'm sorry if we could have traded places I would," Macchione said. "And I live with it every single day."

Macchione also testified she was "100 percent disabled," due to hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and a blood disorder. Macchione said she takes about 17 different prescribed medications for her ailments, including methadone and muscle relaxers.

A blood draw after the crash found methadone in Macchione's system, and Florida Highway Patrol troopers observed the defendant nodding off after the crash.

A postal worker and Macchione's friend, Dale Hoaglan, testified he had visited with Macchione at the post office about 15 minutes before the crash.

Hoaglan said he knew Macchione about 10 years, but wasn't aware she had any health issues.

Hoaglan, whose son is a trooper, said he drove to the crash site and stayed with a "very emotional" and "very confused" Macchione. He wasn't sure Macchione knew she had hit and killed a person, Hoaglan said, and added he had thought the construction site was dangerous before the crash took place.

On Wednesday morning, Assistant Medical Examiner Kyle Shaw reviewed the numerous internal and external injuries Thompson sustained during the crash, including a skull fracture, multiple broken bones, bruised and lacerated organs and "road rash." Thompson's death was caused by multiple blunt force injuries from the vehicle collision, Shaw said.

Bruce Goldberger, a toxicology and pharmacology expert from the University of Florida, also testified Wednesday about the "unusual" nature of methadone. Goldberger said he found .10 mg/L in Macchione's blood sample, and explained methadone has a long "half life" because it metabolizes slowly.

Goldberger said methadone effects, including lethargy and dozing off, would usually occur within one or two hours of taking the drug.

The toxicologist said he didn't think it would be possible for Macchione to have the severe side effects from methadone if she had taken the drug the night before the accident.

The trial will continue on Thursday.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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