Judge dismisses aggravated assault, DUI charges
LOCK HAVEN — The most serious charges against Zachary T. Klinefelter, 23, of Mill Hall, were dismissed by District Judge Frank Mills following a preliminary hearing Monday at the Clinton County Courthouse.
The judge dismissed charges of aggravated assault while driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol.
Charges were filed by PSP Trooper Lauren Lesher following a one-vehicle accident on Oct. 13, 2019 on East Valley Road, Greene Township, in which a 2006 Dodge Charger owned by Klinefelter crashed into a tree, a pole and overturned.
Klinefelter and his passenger, Jenna Lynn Girven, were found lying in the roadway, according to Trooper Lesher. Girven, who suffered serious spine injuries, was taken by Life Flight to Geisinger Medical Center where she underwent surgery. Klinefelter, also taken to Geisinger, was treated and discharged the following day, Lesher said.
The trooper said Girven told her that Klinefelter was the driver, and according to her own investigation she believed Klinefelter was driving at the time of the accident. She pointed to the most serious damage to the passenger’s side of the car and the fact that Girven suffered the most serious injuries, so she must have been the passenger. She said Klinefelter’s injuries were minor and the damage to the car was less on the driver’s side, putting him behind the wheel.
Lesher said she found drug paraphernalia on Girven, who admitted to the trooper both she and Klinefelter had been doing methamphetamines. Medical records from Geisinger indicated urine from both Klinefelter and Girven tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines, the trooper said. Lesher said she found a bottle of pills “in the mess” of the car, in the back seat.
The trooper said she was unable to talk to Klinefelter at the accident scene, calling his behavior combative and saying he was incoherent and disheveled. He did not respond to questions, she said. And Trooper Lesher said she estimated Klinefelter was driving about 100 miles per hour at the time of the crash at 9:30 a.m.
Klinefelter’s attorney Brian Manchester argued that the trooper’s testimony didn’t prove that his client was driving, nor that the pills found in the back seat were his. Further, Manchester said that Geisinger is not an approved facility for testing of urine and that information is inadmissible.
Manchester challenged the trooper’s experience and training in investigating the accident and coming to the conclusions she did.
After a fairly lengthy recess to consider the case, Judge Mills re-entered the courtroom and announced the charges he had dismissed and those to remain, which include misdemeanor traffic violations.