Truck driver describes driving through debris field, dodging body in witness testimony for OKC doctor’s trial

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The closest witness to a crash that left one person dead and an OKC cardiologist charged with 2nd-degree murder took the stand Wednesday.

Dr. Bryan Perry is accused of killing motorcyclist Nicholas Rappa 2018 in a DUI crash.

In day two of testimony, prosecutors called veteran truck driver Steven Unruh. He was driving on I-35 the night of the crash, and while on the road, saw Rappa on his motorcycle about a half-mile ahead of him. 

“Thought it was a small, very fast motorcycle or a moped,” Unruh told asst. D.A. Catt Burton. “I just thought it would be miserable to be out there like that in that weather.

Unruh also saw Perry’s car come up behind him.

“They weren’t steady,” he said of the sports car’s headlights. “I could tell he was weaving in his lane.”

Unruh said Perry passed him on the left and agreed when questioned by defense attorney Scott Adams that he passed safely. He watched Perry’s Mercedes then pull into the slow lane behind the motorcycle, blocking the smaller vehicle from view.

“I was just thinking I sure hope he sees him,” Unruh said. 

The two vehicles ahead crested a hill and Unruh said he couldn’t quite see what happened.

“I saw his brake lights and saw he swerved,” Unruh said. “Figured he missed them.”

But as Unruh’s truck reached that spot, he knew he was wrong.

“All of a sudden I’m in a debris field, and saw a body in the lane and managed to dodge it,” Unruh said. “The way it was twisted around, I didn’t think there was any chance he was still alive.”

Prosecutors played the 911 call Unruh made as soon as he pulled over. 

“He wasn’t moving. He was laying in the lane and there was trash all over,” he can be heard saying on the call. 

When asked what the victim was driving, Unruh said, “He was either on a bicycle or a slow-moving vehicle.” In court, he told the ADA his first thought was that it was a bicycle, “but it didn’t take me long to see it was a motorcycle or moped, I could see it was moving a pretty good clip.”

He also told the ADA he thinks he could see the tail light on the motorcycle, and that it looked blurry like it was flickering, but this was a point Adams disputed in his cross-examination.

Adams asked Unruh if he remembered having a conversation with an investigator a few days later, and telling that trooper that he didn’t see a tail light on the motorcycle.

“That’s probably what I said but I don’t believe that’s what I meant,” Unruh said.

Adams also suggested Perry was swerving because the 18-wheeler Unruh was driving was throwing up spray from the wet weather.

“It doesn’t work like that,” the truck driver said when Adams asked him to confirm that suggestion.

Adams pressed Unruh on the statement he made to investigators regarding the tail light, but he wouldn’t concede that’s what he saw.

“Do you remember telling the trooper you could not see a tail light, don’t believe he had one,” Adams said, “in fact, there may have been a backpack covering it?”

“I believe I told everyone it was flickering,” Unruh said. “Maybe there was a jacket flapping over it.”

Prosecutors also showed the jury video of Perry drinking four drinks at The Liszt, a Northpark Mall club. Those were the last of 13 drinks prosecutors showed him on camera finishing before getting in the car that night.

Darwin Stewart, an assistant division director at the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, provided prosecutors records of when the Pike Pass on Perry’s Mercedes passed through the Kilpatrick Turnpike that night after leaving The Liszt. 

The records show he got on the turnpike at 1:16 a.m. and traveled about six miles in three minutes, exiting at 1:19 a.m., prosecutors alleging Perry was traveling in excess of 100 mph. 

The records also showed that Perry’s car was tracked by two different lane cameras at the Santa Fe reader. The OTA official said either the vehicle was crossing the two lanes at the same time, or the car was traveling down the center of both lanes.

Adams pointed out that the first two readings showed Perry went about 3.5 miles in one minute and asked the OTA official if he was suggesting Perry was traveling over 200 mph. The OTA official said that’s would be inferred based on the records.

Adams also stressed that the OTA Pike Pass readers and records are meant for the purpose of collecting money, and not to measure speed.

But in redirect, the OTA official assured Asst. D.A. Catt Burton that the readings showing when Perry entered and exited the turnpike are exact.

Prosecutors are expected to pick back up Thursday morning.

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