began in street racing death
Author: Doug Murphy
case of Scott Sucharew went to the jury late Thursday.
is on trial for the July 4, 2001 death of Steven Welch, an Ahwatukee
31-year-old Sucharew, formerly of Ahwatukee Foothills, is charged with
second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
county attorney Richard Nothwehr has said that Sucharew was racing south
on the Warner-Elliot Loop with Weston Doyle, 17, just after midnight
when Sucharew's car collided with Welch's Mazda near Equestrian Trail,
killing the Ahwatukee Foothills pizza deliveryman almost instantly.
showed that Welch's car was stopped in the curb-side lane at the time of
told the jury during his closing arguments Thursday: "This case is
about excessive speed. It was excessive speed that killed Steven Welch.
And it was the defendant's response to shrug his shoulders and walk
attorney Michael Black countered in his closing statements: "Had it
not been for Wes Doyle trying to engage Scott Sucharew in some type of
drag race this would not have occurred."
to instructions given to the nine-women, three-man jury by Maricopa
County Superior Court Judge Barbara Jarrett, jurors can find Sucharew
guilty of reckless manslaughter or negligent homicide -- lesser charges
-- if the jury believes the burden of proof for second-degree murder
sharpest cross-examination of the trial, and the focus of his closing
arguments, was aimed at Phoenix police Officer Mark Figueroa who
accompanied Sucharew to Tempe St. Luke's Hospital. He testified on Jan.
10 that he was present when hospital staff drew blood at 1:45 a.m.,
which was later tested to show that Sucharew had a blood alcohol content
of 0.141, well above the legal limit.
Figueroa's police report only mentions one blood draw, at 4 a.m., after
police had obtained a search warrant.
just came up with that (witnessing the 1:45 a.m. blood draw) today,
didn't you," demanded Black on cross-examination Jan. 10.
insisted that he watched the hospital staff draw the blood despite not
mentioning it in his report.
told the jury Thursday "We don't know where it (the blood) came
also told the jury "as sure as I'm standing here Figueroa
is the officer who shot Donald Pullen on New Year's Day when the
California man attacked officer Joe Wenness and tried to take his gun.
shooting is under investigation by the Phoenix police, a standard
took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday, telling the jury "I
was nervous, uncomfortable," as the Mustang, driven by Doyle, sped
up to drive alongside his car. Each time Sucharew sped up, the Mustang
would catch up to him.
mentioned that a similar incident had occurred in his hometown of
Milwaukee, involving gang members.
did admit on the stand he had drank three beers.
charges have been filed against Doyle, who received immunity in
December. However, charges can still be filed against the Desert Vista
High School junior although prosecutors are prevented from using any of
his court testimony and pre-trial interview statements against him.
told the hushed court Wednesday that after seeing Welch's car pull out
in front of him, "I remember slamming on the breaks, the initial
sound of metal and then that was it."
told the jury he didn't know he had killed anyone until police told him
while he was being treated at the hospital and it wasn't until he was in
jail and watching the news later that day that he discovered his car had
assistance did you give Steven Welch," asked Nothwehr on
didn't give him any assistance," Sucharew said.
found guilty, Jarrett could sentence Sucharew to a maximum of 22 years
in prison, or a minimum of probation time.
Questions, comments and
criticisms can be directed to: Jeff