Judge Limits Evidence Jurors Can See Ahead Of Hit-run Trial
WILKES-BARRE — With the trial date for hit-and-run suspect Daniel Loughnane closing in, a county judge on Tuesday further limited what evidence prosecutors can present to the jury.
Loughnane, 46, of Hanover Twp., has been awaiting trial on a felony hit-and-run charge ever since Rebecca McCallick, 19, was run over on Hazle Street in Wilkes-Barre on July 24, 2012. Prosecutors allege Loughnane struck McCallick, who had been using marijuana and lying in the street, while on his way home from the Gentleman’s Club 10 strip club in Wilkes-Barre Twp.
The case has long been delayed because of legal battles over the seizure of Loughnane’s Ford F-350 Super Duty. Loughnane eventually won that argument, with appellate judges ruling the warrantless seizure was illegal.
Last week defense attorney Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. sought to exclude a number of items from reaching jurors’ ears, including description of the vehicle by McCallick’s boyfriend John Schenck IV.
In an order filed Tuesday, Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough ruled prosecutors cannot use any identification of the truck obtained after it was seized. But Schenck, who saw the truck in the driveway before the seizure, will be permitted to describe the vehicle as being the truck that struck McCallick, the judge ruled.
Vough also ruled that Schenck will not be allowed to describe the sound of Loughnane’s truck, and that Wilkes-Barre police Detective David Sobocinski will not be permitted to testify as an expert witness.
Another witness, Jessie Spencer, will be permitted to testify about a conversation she had with Loughnane, but she will not be able to reference what the defense describes as her “erroneous and speculative assumption that Mr. Loughnane was about to make a confession,” the judge wrote.
Vough also prohibited either side from suggesting that Loughnane had been drinking until witness Paula Bell Thomas testifies about an admission Loughnane purportedly made to her about his level of intoxication.
The trial is set to begin Oct. 15.
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