FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth Fire Department captain testified yesterday that the homeless man impaled in the windshield of a woman’s car 20 months ago could have been saved had Chante Jawan Mallard called 911 that fateful morning.
Capt. Jim Sawder’s testimony was part of a gruesome display by the prosecution explaining the state’s version of how 37-year-old Gregory Biggs writhed in agony, stuck in the shattered windshield, his head possibly resting on the passenger seat facing Mallard.
“My opinion is that there is not one member of the Fort Worth Fire Department that could not have saved Mr. Biggs’ life with basic life-support care,” Capt. Sawder said.
A forensic specialist in blood-spatter evidence said that blood inside the car indicated strongly that the victim was still alive and possibly gasping in the minutes after the accident.
Max Courtney, lab director of Forensic Consultant Services here, said he found small blood drops in the compartment between the seats.
“If I have blood in my mouth and I cough or wheeze forcefully, I could produce such a bloodstain,” he said.
It was the second day of Mallard’s murder trial. The 27-year-old nurse’s aide is charged with murder in the death of Mr. Biggs, a homeless man she struck on the way home from a drunken spree at a local nightclub.
She has admitted running into the victim on Oct. 26, 2001, and on Monday pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence — burning a bloody seat from the car — a charge that could warrant up to a 10-year sentence. The more-serious murder charge carries a potential sentence of life in prison.
As Mr. Biggs lay sprawled into the window, with one leg almost severed, Mallard began calling friends to help. The next day the victim, by that time dead, was moved by Mallard and two male friends and dumped in a city park.
Her defense outlined Monday in defense attorney Jeff Kearney’s opening statement will be that she didn’t know the victim was still alive when she drove on home, into her garage and locked the door behind her, Mr. Biggs still ensconced upside down in the windshield.
The state contends that Mallard drove home, locked the wrecked vehicle in her garage and then called friends to help her, instead of calling for medical help for Mr. Biggs.
The defendant admitted to police she returned to the garage, more than once, crying out to her victim that she was sorry, but made no attempt to help him or summon emergency medical systems.
Mr. Kearney said the young woman had taken the drug Ecstasy, had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.
“Chante was messed up,” he said.
Mr. Kearney described his client’s “extreme panic” when a 200-pound man flew through her windshield, spraying glass everywhere.
“Next to her is a body … upside down, head in the floorboard, legs in directions that no one thought was humanly possible. You can’t imagine. You can’t imagine.”
Prosecutor Christy Jack said in her opening statement that the defendant stopped at least once to try to jerk Mr. Biggs’ body out of her windshield, which Miss Jack called “the first of many defining moments.”
She asked jurors to ponder why Mallard didn’t call for help.
“She finally did make a call,” the prosecutor said. “But the help wasn’t for him. The help was for her.”
Titlisee Fry told the court that Mallard, her best friend, called her at about 3:30 a.m., less than a half-hour after the two had parted, to help her search for two male friends, to no avail.
The next day, Miss Fry testified, Mallard found Clete Jackson and his cousin Herbert Cleveland and among the three, they moved the body into Cobb Park.
Police were mystified for weeks, but then they got a 911 tip, which led them to Mallard’s home, where they found evidence enough to charge her.
Jackson and Cleveland have both pleaded guilty and been sentenced respectively to 10 and 9 years imprisonment. They are scheduled to testify today.