Attorneys in Connolly case argue motions ahead of trial - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Attorneys in Connolly case argue motions ahead of trial

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Just days away from the start of the trial for 25-year-old Joseph Connolly, attorneys for both sides were in court Thursday arguing motions to keep evidence out of that trial.

Connolly is accused to driving under the influence and striking a utility vehicle, killing all four teenagers aboard.

Authorities say he was driving a pickup last August when he ran through a stop sign and hit the utility vehicle near Epworth.

Teenagers Sean Kenneally, Mitchell Kluesner, Nick Kramer and Bryce Wilwert were killed in the collision.

Connolly faces four counts of vehicular homicide by operating under the influence, four counts of vehicular homicide by reckless driving, one count of causing serious injury by OWI and a charge of serious injury by driving recklessly.

In all, attorneys for both sides argued nearly two dozen points Thursday. Most of them were minor ways the other side could or couldn't argue something.

The main point of contention seemed to come about over a witness the state added to their witness list less than a week ago.

The witness, an out-of-state technical expert with Dynamic Safety LLC, would fill the gaps that were "beyond the scope of the expertise of the deputies who did the initial technical investigation in this case," said Alisha Stach, the prosecutor in this case.

Bob Rehkemper, Connolly's attorney, argued against it.

"This additional minutes of testimony completely changes the landscape of this case, completely changes defense strategy, and is something that has been done considerably late in the game," he said.

Iowa District Court Judge Todd Geer said he would consider that motion, among many others, and make a ruling before the trial starts.

Other notable arguments included an attempt by the defense to keep out testimony from deputies about what one witness said on the scene.

Rehkemper argued that since the actual witness was going to testify, it would be hearsay to have a deputy talk about it too.

Geer ruled in favor of the defense.

On the other side, the state pushed to suppress a defense argument that would claim the placement of the stop sign might have prevented the accident.

"The evidence with regard to whether or not signs are a foot to the left or an inch too tall have nothing to do with if this accident was actually preventable," Stach said.

Geer will have to make those rulings relatively quickly, as jury selection is set for Monday morning.

Geer said that because they had this hearing today, he expected selection to last only one day, meaning opening statements could be heard as early as Tuesday morning.

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