OGDEN — Esther Fujimoto’s screams could be heard 300 yards away when she was fatally struck by a powerboat, a 2nd District Court jury was told Tuesday.
In the second day of the second trial here over Fujimoto’s Aug. 21, 2011, death on Pineview Reservoir, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office described a re-enactment of the fatality conducted two weeks later on the water.
Skyler Shepherd last month was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for his part in the death. Co-defendants Colton Raines and Robert Cole Boyer are on trial now.
The re-enactment included having an officer bob in the water — and scream — where Fujimoto was hit in the Spring Cove area, while a boat with an engine louder than Shepherd’s circled about 15 feet away.
They were testing both Shepherd’s account that he didn’t hear Fujimoto scream and Vaughn Anderson’s that he heard her from his Huntsville patio 300 yards away, testified Sheriff’s Detective Scott Sorenson.
It was Anderson who rowed out to Fujimoto after hearing the screams. He called 911 on his cellphone from his small rowboat with one hand, as his other hand held Fujimoto, keeping her from sinking under the water.
The defendants are charged not for the collision that sliced her open, prosecutors stress, but for fleeing the scene.
Prosecutors are working to rebut the expected defense that failed Shepherd — claims he heard no screams and had no idea of the extent of Fujimoto’s injuries.
The prosecution is expected to rest Thursday morning when the trial reconvenes, with the defense case then to begin with four, and possibly five, people to take the stand.
Sorenson said he was startled at how clearly the screams of the officer in the re-enactment were heard from Anderson’s patio three football fields to the east.
“I don’t want to say I didn’t believe him,” Sorenson testified. “But I was surprised at how well we could hear the screams from his house.”
Anderson, 54, has declined a hero’s acknowledgement, turned down interviews and walked away from photo requests. Family members asked to email snapshots of him have said they’d try, but nothing yet.
Anderson has testified three times to his hellacious efforts on Fujimoto’s behalf: at a preliminary hearing for all three men last July, Shepherd’s trial in December and now that of Raines and Boyer.
And each time, he has had to endure hearing again the tape of his 911 call in which he’s sobbing and yelling, cursing, talking to dispatch and to Fujimoto.
Prosecutors say she probably died during the call.
The tape is so emotional, both defense teams after the preliminary hearing tried to have it ruled inadmissible as too prejudicial to a jury.
In other testimony Tuesday, Raines’ girlfriend at the time, Kelsey Kuch, testified that Raines brought out some marijuana earlier the day of the fatality, which he, she and others smoked.
Other witnesses had told the sheriff’s office that Boyer was also seen smoking marijuana that day, Sorenson said, leading to a search warrant to draw blood from the two men for toxicology testing eight or nine days after Fujimoto’s death.
The prosecution agreed Tuesday afternoon to stipulate to the toxicology results that found no evidence in their system of marijuana. “Or anything else,” Raines’ attorney, Greg Skordas noted.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Dean Saunders agreed to publishing those negative results to the jury with the proviso that the toxicologist said, with the testing used, any drugs or alcohol would likely be undetectable within three to four days.
Shepherd was convicted of reckless endangerment, failure to render aid and obstruction of justice.
Raines was driving when the boat hit Fujimoto and faces the same charges as Shepherd, who took the wheel to leave the scene.
Boyer is charged only with obstruction of justice for joining Shepherd and Raines in alleged efforts to hide details from police.