Defense questions speed calculations in Middlefield man’s manslaughter trial

  • From left, Wayne Main, 74, of Middlefield, attorneys Luke Ryan, Leah Kunkel and First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne appear in Hampshire Superior Court on Tuesday for the second day of trial. Main is charged with manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy, 22. GAZETTE STAFF/EMILY CUTTS

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Editors Note: This story was updated on Feb. 14, 2018 to correct the spelling of Daniel Parkka last name.

NORTHAMPTON — A defense attorney for a Middlefield man charged in the death of a motorcyclist spent hours Tuesday in Hampshire Superior Court picking apart crash reconstruction evidence.

Wayne Main, 74, is charged with manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy, 22, of Montgomery. Main is represented by attorneys Luke Ryan and Leah Kunkel, who contend that the accident occurred because Dejordy was traveling too fast.

Main waived his right to a jury trial. The presiding judge is Richard Carey.

First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne has argued that Main knew he shouldn’t have been driving after being declared legally blind in June 2012. Main allegedly turned his GMC Yukon in front of DeJordy’s oncoming motorcycle.

In court Tuesday morning, Trooper Tom Fisk took the stand to detail his work as part of the state police’s Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section (CARS.)

Over the course of the morning, Fisk described how he used various equations to determine the speed at which Dejordy was operating his 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 and how long it would have taken him to stop once he realized the danger of the turning vehicle. Using measurements of the skid marks left on the road, as well as information about the impact of the motorcycle into the GMC Yukon, Fisk determined that Dejordy would have been traveling at a minimum of 61 or 63 mph — depending on the formula used to determine the speed — prior to braking. An expert witness called by the defense testified the speed was closer to 69 mph.

Questioned by Gagne, Fisk testified that there was “no definitive way of determining what the actual speed was” before Dejordy applied the brakes on his motorcycle.

Following Gagne’s questioning, defense attorney Kunkel began by asking Fisk about the SUV’s so-called “black box” or airbag control module, which can record information about crashes. Neither Fisk nor his supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Sanchez, retrieved the module or extracted the potential evidence contained within.

Kunkel questioned Fisk’s math to determine the motorcycle’s speed, specifically calling into question a number he used to calculate the motorcycle’s gear ratio. Fisk’s number differed from that given in testimony later by an expert witness called by the defense. Kunkel also presented her own calculations using the same equation as Fisk but a different gear ratio, which she found in a manufacturer’s manual for the model of motorcycle.

Fisk also testified that at the time of his inspection of the GMC Yukon, the SUV’s turn signals were not working but may have been damaged in the crash. The SUV had passed inspection 10 days before the crash.

The final person to take the stand Tuesday was a witness for the defense, Daniel Parkka. Parkka is an accident reconstructionist and formerly worked for the Barnstable Police Department before retiring in 2004. Hired by the defense, Parkka conducted his own review of the crash reconstruction.

Parkka presented multiple issues he found when reviewing the collision analysis and reconstruction section report completed by Fisk. One of the issues Parkka raised was a differing gear ratio, which resulted in his conclusion that the motorcycle was traveling faster than the police estimate.

The trial will resume Wednesday morning when  Gagne will have his first opportunity to question Parkka.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.Editor’s Note: This story was changed on Feb. 14, 2018, to correct the spelling of Daniel Parkka