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Prosecution rests, Stasko tells jury he doesn't remember impact of crash

Published: Dec. 5, 2011 at 12:52 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2012 at 10:51 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The prosecution and defense rested in the case against the man accused of killing 3 people after racing his car and crashing it in 2009.

Tyler Stasko, 23, testified is his own defense Friday.

Stasko told the jury that he does not remember the impact of the crash, but he testified to what happened before and after.

"I just remember passing another vehicle, I was in the left lane and then a church and the next thing I remember I was waking up in the car," said Stasko.

Stasko recalls seeing the black Camaro driven by Carlene Atkinson at a stoplight on York Road.

The passengers in each car knew each other.

He was careful not to say they were racing, but says both cars were side by side.

"We started speeding," he said.

Stasko's taped statement to police right after the crash reveals details of the moment he crashed into Cynitha Furr's Mercedes. The impact killed Furr, her 2 year -old daughter and Hunter Holt, a passenger in Stasko's car.

"As soon as I came over that hill, the car was stopped and it wasn't doing anything and then right at the last minute it stepped on the gas and started pulling out," said Stasko in the taped statement to police.

The 23-year-old describes slamming the brakes.

His statement is key for the defense who is trying to prove Furr pulled out in front of him.

Prosecutors say he was going too fast and never braked.

During cross-examination they asked him who was at fault.

"I don't want to say it's her fault, it's everybody's fault, mostly mine because I was speeding," said Stasko.

Closing arguments will begin Monday.

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The judge hearing the case allowed the jury to visit the scene Thursday.

The jurors rode in two county vans and were escorted by police who blocked the road so jurors could view the accident site.

The trip lasted 20 minutes.

Prior to the afternoon visit, jurors heard testimony from Det. Jesse Wood, a crash scene investigator.

Wood testified that there were no skid marks on the road before the accident point. Prosecutors hope to prove Stasko didn't use the brakes before the collision.

"At the time of the impact Ms. Furr's car was traveling at 10 mph and Mr. Stasko's car was traveling at a minimum of 86 mph, " said Wood.

The defense claims Furr pulled out in front of Stasko leaving him little time to react.

More witnesses took the stand Wednesday morning in the trial against a 23-year-old man facing murder charges in a street racing crash.

A former medic who arrived on scene testified that Furr was dead on arrival and helped lift her car so McAllister could be picked up.

Tyler Stasko, 23, is on trial for three charges of second degree murder after crashing his car on York Highway in April 2009.

Police say Stasko and Carlene Atkinson were speeding down York Road when Cynthia Furr was pulling out of her Riverpointe neighborhood near Lake Wylie.

Furr, her two-year-old daughter McAllister, and 13-year-old Hunter Holt died. Holt was a passenger in Stasko's car.

Rex Thomas was also a passenger in Stasko's car. He survived with a broken foot and said Stasko tried to avoid the accident by hitting his brakes. He also testified Wednesday that Cynthia Furr pulled out in front of them.

In opening statements, assistant district attorney Reed Hunt said Stasko was driving 86 miles per hour when he crashed into Furr's car.

"But the story starts about a mile and a half up the road," said Hunt. He called two witnesses who testified that they were beside a black Eclipse and in front of a black Camaro on Hwy 49, and heard engines revving.

Lindsay Smith said, "The light turned green, and the tires started squealing." She said the Camaro driver cut her off, and sped up to race the Eclipse driver. Smith estimated seeing the cars going up to 100 miles per hour.

Police said Stasko drove the Eclipse, and Atkinson drove the Camaro.

A passenger with Smith repeated the same observations. Jane Christiani Hayes is a nurse who testified about trying to help when their came upon the crash a few seconds later.

"There was a carseat," said Hayes, talking about the wreckage of Cynthia Furr's car. Hayes said she looked for the baby and found her under the car. There were no signs of life, she said through tears.

Steve Price was the next witness. He testified about losing his wife and daughter that day in April of 2009. He said Furr and Mackie were playing in the yard earlier that day with Easter eggs. He said he heard sirens soon after his wife and child left for church, and headed toward the end of their street.

"That's a Mercedes wheel. That's gold. That's my wife," he told the court, recounting how the realization set in that he was staring at the wreckage of his wife's car.

Price said police held him back from scene, and then was taken by an officer to follow Mackie in the ambulance. "It was driving slow and the lights and siren were not on," he said.

"Mackie's gone," said Price about the moment he knew his child died.

Hunter Holt's father, Dan Holt, also testified about seeing the crash scene. "You could see debris everywhere, two cars torn to pieces," said Holt.

"If no one died, it would be a true miracle," he said. Holt told the court how Hunter could not be saved at the hospital.

They called in family and friends, then made the decision to take Hunter off life support. "Hunter took a last, deep breath...and he was gone," said Holt.

Defense Attorney Deke Falls called the accident tragic in his opening statements, and that the victims' families suffered great loss. However, he said Stasko had no malicious intent to harm anyone.

"Tyler got caught up in the moment," said Falls. "It was literally a moment, this lasted less than a minute," he said referring to the racing portion of the accident.

He said Stasko was picking up Holt and a friend, Rex Thomas, from Carowinds. Stasko was doing Rex's parents a favor at the time. Falls said the boys and two girls in Atkinson's car knew each other and were joking around at a stoplight on Highway 49, York Road.

Falls also said the jury will hear evidence that Furr possibly pulled out in front of Stasko and that the accident was unavoidable.

However, prosecutors say a speeding Tyler Stasko is what caused the crash.

Since the accident, a traffic light has been installed outside the neighborhood.

Both Stasko and Atkinson have spent most of the past two years out on bond. Atkinson will be facing a judge at a later date. She had a history of speeding tickets.

Closing arguments will begin on Monday morning.

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