Local News

Witnesses: Petersen Racing With Teens At Time Of Fatal I-540 Accident

Posted June 29, 2004 5:56 a.m. EDT

— Two teenagers told jurors that Chris Petersen, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, was racing another car that crashed on Interstate 540 in May 2001.

Jamie Brewer, Bryan Reeves, Mike Smith and Matthew Yurcak were killed when the car they were in crossed the median, flipping over several times before hitting a van.

Lindsie Webster, who was in Petersen's car the night of the accident, told jurors that another teen in the car told her and Kristin Starnowski to not tell anyone that they were racing. However after several months, Webster said she wanted to tell the truth about what happened that night.

"I told my mom that we were racing, and I went over to Jamie's house and told her mom," she said.

Starnowski also testified in court Tuesday that she was in Petersen's car the night of the accident. She told jurors that Petersen's car was racing the other car that crashed and that the speed during the race reached 110 mph.

Starnowski testified that she and Brewer originally were in Chris Petersen's car. Starnowski mentioned they were driving fast on their way to an ice-cream store.

"I was just: 'Oh my God, we are going too fast,'" Starnowski said. "I was like: 'I'm scared,' She (Brewer) said: 'I'm scared too.' I told her to tell him to slow down."

After stopping at the ice-cream shop later that night, Brewer got out of Petersen's car and into Reaves' car, along with Smith and Yurcak. Authorities believe the accident happened after that.

Starnowski told jurors that after the accident, she got out of Petersen's car to help.

"I started screaming everybody's names," she said.

Another witness testified Tuesday that Petersen told him at the hospital that he and the other teens were racing.

During opening statements, prosecutors said the teens' deaths occurred as a result of a race and Petersen should be held responsible. The defense countered by saying the teens were not racing with Petersen, and there was a problem with Reaves' car.

They claim the teens' deaths were an unfortunate accident.

During cross-examination, defense attorneys asked Starnowski and Webster about why they never told police the night of the fatal accident that they were racing. The girls said they were never asked.