Officials won’t have to testify about trucker’s crash charges

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

Lucas County prosecutors will not be forced to testify about why they decided to charge a Toledo truck driver with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for his role in an accident in August that killed a mother and her daughter.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks made that ruling during a hearing in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday.

Attorneys for L. James Kohler, 25, of West Alexis Road, have accused prosecutors of treating their client more harshly than others accused of similar offenses.

Mr. Kohler’s tractor-trailer collided with a minivan driven by Katherine Zakrzewski on Aug. 31 at Manhattan Boulevard and Lagrange Street.

Mrs. Zakrzewski, 42, and her 10-year-old daughter, Calista, were killed in the accident.

On Dec. 14, attorneys for Mr. Kohler asked that the charges be dismissed, citing three similar cases in which prosecutors chose not to file manslaughter charges.

To support their motion, the attorneys subpoenaed three prosecutor’s office employees, asking them to provide information and testify why the charges were not filed in those cases but were against Mr. Kohler. Judge Franks’s ruling quashed those subpoenas.

The larger defense motion seeks dismissal of the charges. Judge Franks said she will rule on that issue this week.

Dean Mandross, criminal division chief of the prosecutor’s office, said requiring prosecutors to testify about their actions could be detrimental to the justice system.

“We have nothing to hide, but it’s just a horrible precedent to allow to be set,” he said.

If the defense motion to dismiss the charges is denied, Mr. Kohler’s trial would begin Jan. 10.