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Dueling continues in Granich case

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Wesley Grimes, an accident reconstruction specialist from Arizona testified Wednesday

By Carol A. Clark

Three witnesses Wednesday joined the long line testifying in Santa Fe District Court since Monday in the case of a local woman charged with killing her husband by driving him off a White Rock cliff.

Defense attorneys argue their client, Penny Granich, 35, should never have been charged because no one saw her driving the couple’s 2004 Dodge pickup and she can’t remember a thing about the Dec. 4, 2005 crash.

Penny’s husband Thomas Edward Granich, 32, was discovered dead at the bottom of the canyon near Overlook Park.

His body had ejected and came to rest a short distance from the truck, which landed upright in a creek bed some 350 feet from the ridge.

“Penny Granich should never have been charged. She shouldn’t be here,” Defense attorney Mark Donatelli said during his opening arguments Monday.

He explained that no one knew for sure who drove the truck off the cliff, the speed the truck was traveling and the time of the crash or even what time the crash occurred. That’s important because a number of witnesses testified that the Granichs were at Canyon Bar and grill drinking until sometime around midnight. A Los Alamos County worker discovered the crash site some nine hours later.

Penny was sitting in the bed of the truck calling out for help.  Police reports indicate a nurse at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center said Penny admitted she was driving the truck. The nurse added that Penny’s injuries were consistent with those made by a driver’s side seat belt.

Wednesday’s witnesses included former owner Kelly Milligan of Rocky Mountain Automotive, the towing company that hauled the truck.

Lt. Reggie Briggle testified to serving a search warrant on the truck. Wesley Grimes of Collision Engineering Associates, Inc. of Mesa, Ariz., flew in to testify as well.

Grimes is an accident re-construction specialist who documents and analyzes motor vehicle crashes with a team of engineers and retired law enforcement personnel.  He came into the case a couple of years after the crash and Donatelli discounted his testimony to jurors saying his findings are based heavily on former Los Alamos Police Cpl. Jon Gonzales’ findings, which he said are flawed.

Prosecutor Carlos Gutierrez contends that Penny was driving and accelerated the truck on Overlook Park Road before leaving the roadway and continuing a path over various obstacles with no deviation from a straight line to the canyon’s edge.

Penny’s charges include reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Attorneys are expected to conclude today with closing arguments after which the jury will go into deliberation.