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Testimony underway in trial of Tracy Gordon in fatal Lake Murray crash underway

On Wednesday, Judge Heath Taylor ruled Gordon's blood alcohol results will not be allowed to be presented in court to the jury.

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — On Wednesday, the court case of the State of South Carolina versus Tracy L. Gordon continued in Richland County.

This case follows a boating accident on Lake Murray in September of 2019 that killed 68-year-old Stanley Virgil Kiser of Chapin. Kiser's wife lost a leg in the incident and his daughter sustained head injures. 

According to court records, Gordon is charged with reckless homicide by operation of a boat and three counts of boating under the influence.

So far, a jury has been selected, opening statements were made and prosecution witnesses have appeared.

On Wednesday, Judge Heath Taylor ruled Gordon's blood alcohol results will not be allowed to be presented in court to the jury. 

The court also heard from new witnesses.

Most of the morning, the defense and prosecution discussed the importance of a law enforcement signature on an affidavit for a blood alcohol concentration test.

The defense said there was no proper signature by the law enforcement officer.

"The officer cannot willfully render himself blind, walk out of a judge’s office with a search warrant that he saw, presided over whatever extent he did, and proceed, and then claim good faith," defense attorney Joe McCulloch said. "That's not what was intended by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s not what was intended by our courts."

The prosecution argued that the judicial signature on the affidavit gives it credibility.

"It is the judicial role in this to give the authority to law enforcement to pick up the search," prosecuting attorney Carter Potts said.

After lunch, the jury came back into the courtroom, hearing from witness Paul Catoe, who was on Lake Murray in his boat during the accident.

"It was pretty horrific what transpired," Catoe said.

Catoe explained that he saw a Baha boat pass him out of the wake zone to his right, speed up, cross over to the left and hit the pontoon boat out in the distance about 75 yards away, going about 25 miles per hour.

"I noticed that the driver of the pontoon boat was already deceased," Catoe said.

"What made you think that?" Potts asked.

"His head was gashed open," Catoe said.

Catoe told the court he then helped pull the pontoon boat with rope to the nearby restaurant Rusty Anchor to meet first responders.

"Back to the Rusty to get all the emergency crews at the dock because by the time I come around, I see all the emergency crew, but more toward the boat launch area," Catoe said.

In cross examination, the defense had Catoe highlight that 25 miles per hour wasn’t a speed out of the norm and that it was common practice for Catoe and other Lake Murray boaters to have had one beer before getting onto a boat to drive home. Catoe also explained that the defendant Gordon asked twice if everyone was okay after the accident.

Then SCDNR Lance Corporal and Education Coordinator Gilmore Stevens took the stand. He described the pictures SCDNR took of the two boats the night of the accident, September 21, 2019. 

"The instrumentation and the steering wheel are in the inside of the vessel, so for it to be on the outside of that, left is dislodged and damaged and broken off and sheared to the outside of the vessel. 

"Hanging over the side?" prosecutor Dan Goldberg asked.

"Hanging over the side, yes," Stevens said.

Stevens then came down from the stand and court went into an afternoon break. 

Court will resume Thursday morning at the Richland County Judicial Center.

The trial is expected to last through next week. 


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