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Daughter: ‘Daddy Held Me Down And The Truck Went Over Me’

November 16, 1996

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Her face tense, her fingers slapping against her palm hard enough to hear, 13-year-old Diane Crist used sign language Friday to tell jurors how ``Daddy held me down and the truck went over me.″

Testifying through an interpreter at her father’s trial for attempted murder, the hearing-impaired eighth-grader said her father twice tossed her in front of a speeding truck.

David Crist, 38, is accused of offering Lisa Cohick $5,000 to kill his daughter by running her over with a pickup truck the night of April 6, 1993. Prosecutors say he needed money and hoped to cash in on $200,000 worth of life insurance on Diane, then 9.

``Dad grabbed me, threw me down and Lisa hit me,″ she said. ``When I got up I was limping and I said, `Daddy, help me.′ But he came over, picked me up and threw me back down on the road!″

Following this trial, which is expected to end early next week, Crist faces another attempted-murder trial for allegedly trying to electrocute Diane’s 4-year-old sister in 1990. He then will be tried in Baltimore County, Md., in the murder-for-hire slaying of his brother in 1982.

Diane, who has partial hearing with the use of hearing aids, said the truck had been tailing them while she was out on a drive with her father and her 3-year-old stepbrother. Crist stopped the car and told her to get out.

As the truck sped toward them, her father told her not to worry, Diane said. Some of the jurors turned in their seats to stare at Crist as his daughter furiously signed and mouthed the words.

Diane also drew a picture for the jurors _ a roadway, a few trees and two trucks. Then she drew a stick figure lying in the road.

``That’s me. That’s me,″ Diane said, fingers stabbing toward the figure. She made a shoving gesture to demonstrate the shove in her back.

``I said, `Daddy, no, no, no, no.′ But Daddy held me down and the truck went over me.″

Prosecutors said Crist flattened his car tire with an ice pick and later told hospital officials his daughter had been hit either by a tire jack, or by his car slipping off the jack.

Other witnesses have testified that Diane’s right ankle was broken, her face, knee and thigh were scraped, and her side was bruised _ injuries not consistent with being hit by a jack or a tire.

``First the truck hit me in the stomach,″ Diane said. ``Then I was face down on the road and the truck hit me in the back.″

Defense attorney Nicole Spring asked Diane if she ever told anybody that Cohick had run over her.

``No,″ she said. ``I wouldn’t tell anyone. I was scared of Lisa because she’d kill me.″

Spring asked Diane why she did not tell her stepmother, Maryalice Crist, or her birth mother, Kathy Millhouse, what had happened.

Diane, who nervously sucked on a finger as the lawyers quizzed her and often answered before the questions were completed, said: ``I didn’t tell (Maryalice) the whole thing because I was shaking, and I was afraid. I was very afraid.″

Maryalice Crist also testified that Diane’s sign-language ability was a lot more limited 3 1/2 years ago, making it very difficult for her to describe how she had been injured.

``She was quite upset. She was very emotional and bawling,″ Crist said. ``She just kept telling me, `Boy, girl, truck and hit.‴

Dr. Albert Liddell, who set Diane’s leg cast the day after the incident, said he was unable to communicate with her for a different reason.

``I tried to, but her father kept giving the answers,″ he said. ``I can vividly recall that interview. Her father interceded each time _ I could not really get to her.″

Mrs. Crist also said the couple was having cash flow problems, including debts of more than $55,000 and a mortgage.

She said her husband never mistreated his children but ``did not spend that much quality time with them, either.″ When asked if Diane seemed afraid of her father following the incident, Mrs. Crist said no.

``She kind of forgot about it and moved on?″ defense attorney William Miele asked.

``Yes,″ Mrs. Crist replied.

Cohick has been granted immunity and is expected to testify for the prosecution when the trial resumes Monday.

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