By Peter Becker
PALMYRA TWP. (PIKE) - Phillip Cise told media as he was led back into the State Police vehicle May 14th, that he was "under medication" during the incident last summer when the pickup he was operating struck and killed a young woman jogging along Route 507.
He had been brought to the Magisterial District Court of Judge Jay Rose for his preliminary hearing. All charges, including felonies Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence and Homicide by Vehicle, a misdemeanor count of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance, and summary counts related to how he was driving, were bound over for trial in Pike County Court.
District Attorney Raymond Tonkin is the prosecutor.
The crash on July 14, 2012 took the life of Gabrielle Reuveni of Paramus, New Jersey, who was 20. She was a Washington University student and was vacationing in the Wallenpaupack area.
She died of blunt force trauma to the head, after she was knocked by the wavering pickup truck and forced up onto the hood and windshield.
This occurred at about noon along Route 507 in Paupack.
Testimony was brought out that Cise, who is 49 and from Dover, New Jersey, was under the influence not of alcohol, but from two medications he had taken that morning, Lithium and Gabapentin, when the collision occurred. Both are central nervous system depressants.
Trooper Corey Tyler, who is trained as a drug recognition expert, said that his examination of the defendant found no evidence of the use of alcohol. He had failed three sobriety tests both at the highway and at the State Police barracks. The defendant had slowness of movement; slowed, slurred speech and exhibited drowsiness, that Tyler said was consistent with the use of central nervous system depressants. The trooper said that in his opinion, Cise was unable to safely use a motor vehicle.
Cise told the troopers that he had nerve-ending damage in both his feet. Defense attorney Robert Bernathy pressed to know if this condition could affect taking field sobriety tests. Tyler said there was no reason for the defendant's safety not to take the tests and he did not know the extent of the nerve damage.
Tyler stressed that his conclusions were not based on a "pass or fail" but all factors were taken into consideration.
Trooper Michael Mulvey said that Cise had no perscription for Gabapentin.
Annette Scheit testified that she was driving south on 507 that day and witnessed the red pickup truck ahead of her swerving across the white fog line and the double yellow line. The witness said she also saw the jogger up ahead and saw her get hit. Scheit pulled over and called 9-1-1.
She said the woman had been jogging along the grass edge of the highway, away from the fog line.
The driver of the pickup came up to her in her car, she said, and said something about the jogger having "a pebble in her shoe."
Trooper Kenneth Johansson said he was dispatched to the scene, arriving in about 10 minutes. He said he conducted the field sobriety tests and the defendant was "shaky" and a "little beligerant." No odor of alcohol was detected. During transport in the State Police car, he was falling asleep.
The accident reconstruction was described by Bradley Beach, was with the Pa. State Police 21 years and performed the measurements at the crash scene.
His analysis showed that the pickup had been traveling at 55 miles per hour. In the last second, the brakes were applied. When she was hit the truck was moving at 38 mph. If he had been going faster, the truck would have run her over. Evidence from the air bag as well as skid marks were taken into account.
Cise was extradited from New Jersey and has remained in Pike County Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 bail.