Briggs may get new trial

LEWISTOWN – The defense attorney representing a man convicted on two counts of vehicular homicide appeared in court on Thursday to argue for a new trial.

Carl D. Briggs, 44, is currently serving a 6- to 12-year sentence at the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh.

Following a three-day jury trial in September 2013, Briggs was convicted on two counts of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence in addition to two counts each of vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter, as well as one count of driving under the influence-general impairment. Briggs was found not guilty of two counts DUI, which had to do with his alleged specific blood-alcohol content at the time of the accident. Charges of aggravated assault while DUI were withdrawn by the prosecution.

Briggs was on trial for the deaths of 64-year-old Bruce E. Kauffman and 63-year-old Judy K. Kauffman, whom he struck with his SUV while they were riding their motorcycle at 4:40 p.m. Oct. 8, 2011, on U.S. 22/522 near McVeytown.

On Thursday, defense attorney Joseph Amendola cited a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Oct. 30, 2013, which may have an impact on his case.

Amendola requested a portion of the trial transcript pertaining to the testimony of Brian Seay, a representative with Quest Diagnostics.

During the trial, Amendola objected to the testimony of Seay, because he was not directly involved in the analysis of his client’s blood-alcohol test at Quest, which is the premise of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case in Commonwealth v. Yohe.

Amendola stated in his post-sentencing motion that his client has a right to confrontation under the Sixth Amendment – specifically, the right to confront the person or persons involved in the analysis of Briggs’ blood. As a result, Amendola has requested the court grant a new trial for his client.

Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek said he thought and still believes Seay was the person to call to testify at the trial.

“I thought this met – and still do – that this met the confrontation clause,” Molek said.

The clock is ticking on the post-sentencing motion and if the court does not issue an opinion soon, the motion would automatically be denied.

Amendola has signaled to the court that if this were to occur, he would file an appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court.