Alcohol consumption non-admissible in fatal hit-and-run case

Posted at 11:59 PM, Feb 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-08 07:32:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--It's a high profile case that dominated headlines after a 24-year-old woman biking home from work was struck and killed by a driver.

Court documents indicate that the alcohol consumed by defendant Elias Webb will not be admissible by prosecutors at the trial unless Webb takes the stand.

A court transcript details that prosecutors intended to show evidence that Webb drank a beer at a friend’s house, and the wine he had later at a West End restaurant.

Prosecutors said Webb drank the wine within an hour or two of the fatal accident on River Road that claimed the life of Lanie Kruszewski.

Webb's defense team argued to keep any mention of alcohol use out and a judge agreed.

Our legal analyst Todd Stone explains that the judge had to weigh the prejudicial value of that evidence against its probative value.

"The defense argues alcohol is so prejudicial and he's not charged with an alcohol-related offense. The judge said the prejudicial impact is great and he is not charged with an alcohol-related offense so therefore it is not directly relevant," Stone said.

Prosecutors in the case disagreed. They believe the jury is entitled to hear about the alleged alcohol consumption.

Webb told police he didn't stop because he thought he hit a deer that night.

Stone says now the defendant's alleged alcohol use will be kept from the jury unless Webb's attorney makes a big decision to put him on the stand.

"If he gets on the stand and testifies, his memory of the event will come into question and then you can question him about alcohol because that relates to his memory at the time," Stone explained.

Eli Webb's three day trial starts Monday, Feb. 11,  in Richmond Circuit Court.

He faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.