Prosecution, defense lay blame in Dill trial

By Errol Castens

Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – Prosecutors worked Tuesday to establish the extent of Dustin Dill's alcohol impairment the day his car crashed into Amie Ewing after an Ole Miss football game.

In the second day of Dill's aggravated DUI trial, forensic toxicologist Shan Hales testified that Dill's blood-alcohol level could have caused him to misjudge what was a safe speed. Dill, then a 19-year-old Ole Miss student from Orlando, Fla., had a 0.12 percent blood-alcohol content when taken more than 90 minutes after the crash, according to law enforcement. The legal limit for minors is .02.

“Any individual with this blood-alcohol concentration would be significantly impaired in their ability to drive,” he said, citing “impaired judgment, increased reaction time and impaired divided attention skills.”

Prosecutors Tuesday also charged that Dill was driving irresponsibly in other ways when he struck Ewing along the westbound lanes of Mississippi Highway 6 on Sept. 4, 2004, after the Ole Miss-Memphis game.

Hales agreed that alcohol might have caused Ewing to misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic as she crossed the highway. Ewing, then 23, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 percent.

Law enforcement officials also share blame for the tragedy, said defense attorney Steve Farese of Ashland.

“Everybody knows it was illegal to park out there, but nobody did anything about it, did they?” he asked Oxford Police Department Investigator Paul Garner, who agreed.

Farese lambasted several holes in the investigations conducted by local officials, citing that no autopsy nor accident reconstruction were performed and Dill was only briefly questioned about how the crash occurred.

Oxford Police Department Lt. Libby Lytle said Dill first reported his speed in the 55-mph zone as “60 to 65.” Garner said Dill had later reported his speed at “probably 55 to 60.”

Farese emphasized the subjective nature of such estimates. Upon questioning by Assistant District Attorney T. R. Trout, however, Garner agreed that Dill might as easily have underestimated his speed as to have overestimated it.

Prosecution testimony is expected to continue when the trial resumes at 9 this morning.

Contact staff writer Errol Castens at 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com