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Fatal crash trial enters closing phase

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations today in the case of a Miami man accused of drunkenly driving into the wrong lane and smashing into an Oldsmobile, killing one person and injuring two others.

The trial of Daniel Bedal, 47, continued Tuesday with testimony from law enforcement and medical witnesses. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin this morning.

Bedal is accused of killing John Still, 41, in the Aug. 3 crash on State Road 44. On Tuesday, the physician who tended to Bedal at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa said Bedal smelled of alcohol when he was brought in for treatment after the crash.

Dr. Richard Hodges also said blood was drawn from Bedal to check for the presence of alcohol. The tests showed Bedal had a blood-alcohol level of 0.34, more than four times the level at which someone is considered impaired under Florida law.

Bedal's blood was also drawn at the request of the Florida Highway Patrol at the scene of the crash. That sample, tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, showed Bedal had a blood-alcohol level of 0.35.

Assistant Public Defender Colleen Kasperek tried to raise questions about the FDLE's storage and handling of the blood. The law enforcement agency's records show the blood was left untested for more than 20 days after the crash.

Kasperek said the blood should be thrown out because of the time lapse. But Assistant State Attorney Richard Buxman argued there was nothing to suggest the results of the blood tests were inaccurate.

"The defense has shown no evidence of tampering whatsoever," he said.

Buxman later put on a witness, FHP Capt. Greg Lamont, who testified the blood had been refrigerated in an evidence locker in Tampa during that 20-day period while they waited to bring it to the FDLE in Tallahassee for further tests.

Circuit Judge Ric A. Howard sided with Buxman and allowed the blood to be introduced as evidence.

According to court testimony, the collision occurred outside Inverness about 6:35 p.m.

John Still, the front-seat passenger in the Oldsmobile, was killed instantly. His son, 14-year-old Michael Still, suffered a fractured pelvis and had to be airlifted to St. Joseph's.

The driver of the car was John Still's younger brother, Robert Still, 38. He received a broken rib and minor cuts and bruises.

Bedal has been charged with one count each of driving under the influence manslaughter, DUI causing serious bodily injury, DUI causing personal injury and driving with a suspended driver's license.

_ Reporter Carrie Johnson can be reached at 860-7309 or cjohnsonsptimes.com.

FHP Cpl. Earl Frazier testifies Tuesday at the DUI manslaughter trial of Daniel Bedal, whose blood-alcohol test result was four times higher than the level at which the state presumes someone to be impaired.

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