BROOKSVILLE — Speeding north with deputies in pursuit, Brittany Miles hit the brakes and skidded into a motorcyclist two years ago, a traffic homicide investigator told a jury Wednesday.
Even with the brakes, though, Miles' red Dodge Ram was traveling at least 66 mph when it slammed into Henry McCain and his Suzuki the morning of May 10, 2011, Florida Highway Patrol Cpl. Vincent Parnell testified.
"She was probably driving a little faster … because this is a minimum speed," Parnell said after a defense attorney asked how much room for error there is in the formula investigators use to determine a vehicle's speed at the time of impact.
McCain, 66, of Spring Hill, died at the scene. Miles, also of Spring Hill, is now on trial for first-degree felony murder and aggravated fleeing to elude law enforcement.
On Tuesday, Miles and her attorneys conceded in open court that she is guilty of murder. But the facts of the case warrant a third-degree charge, not first-degree, her attorneys said.
Miles' chance to experience freedom again will be in the hands of the 12-member jury. If found guilty as charged, she faces a mandatory life sentence.
Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Miles was on her way to a custody hearing involving her young son when she was stopped in Hudson and arrested on a DUI charge. As deputies filled out paperwork, the former stripper slipped out of her handcuffs, reached out an open patrol car window, lifted the door handle and fled to her truck. The deputy who stopped her managed to cling to the truck for a while before falling to the pavement.
Deputies and civilian witnesses took the stand Tuesday and described watching in horror as the Ram sped through a red light at County Line Road and hit McCain as he tried to turn south onto U.S. 19.
On Wednesday, Parnell used a diagram to explain what he found when he arrived.
The truck hit McCain about 20 feet north of the Hernando-Pasco line, Parnell said. The motorcycle slid north, leaving gouge marks in the pavement. His leg severed, McCain flew into the air.
One of the Ram's tires left a 98-foot-long skid mark before the truck careened into the grass of the east shoulder and struck a road sign and a concrete culvert, Parnell testified. At least one of the tires was flat when the truck swerved back onto the highway.
The Ram stopped nearly a mile north of the crash site. The front grill was gone, the right front tire shredded. Both airbags had deployed, Parnell said.
Miles got out and ran a short distance before a Pasco deputy tackled her.
For her actions in Pasco, Miles was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after being convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer, escape, fleeing and eluding, and DUI.
Under Florida law, someone is guilty of first-degree murder when committing one or more certain felonies that result in death. One of those felonies is escape.
Prosecutors contend the entire episode constituted one long escape, from the moment Miles slipped out of her handcuffs to the time a deputy tackled her in Hernando. Miles' attorneys say her escape ended in Pasco, so there is no legal basis for the first-degree murder charge.
As he cross-examined Parnell, defense attorney Aaron Delgado tried to raise the possibility that the crash occurred in Pasco by asking the corporal if he did a survey to confirm the location was north of the county line.
"The accident happened in Hernando County," Parnell replied.
No other witnesses testified Wednesday due to scheduling issues. Testimony is expected to end today.
Defense attorneys have said Miles will take the stand.
Reach Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes and @hernandotimes on Twitter.