Truck repair linked to girl’s death in bizarre Warren crash – Macomb Daily
Police photo by Timothy Otto Warren
Evidence that seven out of eight brakes did not work on a dump truck and that the vehicle’s other deficiencies could be presented at the trial of a man accused of operating a truck that struck and killed a 10-year-old girl in Warren in 2020, a judge decided Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.
Judge Edward Cerveto ruled in favor of the prosecution in the case of Timothy Otto, 61, of Chesterfield Township, who is charged with second-degree murder, reckless driving causing death and vehicular manslaughter for the death of 10-year-old Gianna Giannini.
Serveto said the evidence was relevant to Otto’s state of mind during the accident despite arguments presented by Otto’s attorney, Gary Sanfield, who maintained that the truck’s defects were unrelated to the cause of the accident. It was found that the truck’s headlights and brake lights were not working and the vehicle had not been inspected as required. Additionally, the driver, Otto, took a Vicodin pill the morning of the crash, according to the attorneys.
Serveto pointed to the legal requirement for reckless driving and “full repair of the vehicle.”
“It is intentional and intentional behavior to operate a vehicle that you know is not street worthy,” he said. “The defendant’s mental state is in dispute.
“The question (in this case) is whether the bucket (on the excavator) was not properly secured, which resulted in the death.”
Otto was driving a dump truck towing a backhoe loader that apparently ran through a red traffic light at 10 Mile and Ryan on the morning of July 25, 2020, and struck a vehicle occupied by Gianna and her mother. The loader then fell onto the four-door Honda sedan, killing Gianna and injuring her mother.
Gianna and her mother were returning from buying Gianna’s favorite breakfast sandwich at a nearby Tim Horton’s.
Serveto also denied Sanfield’s motion to dismiss the case or remand it to the 37th District Court in Warren on the grounds that Sanfield was unable to complete his cross-examination of expert witness Derek Stansbury, an accident reconstruction expert and Shelby Township police officer.
Sanfed said the district judge barred him from questioning, though Macomb Assistant Prosecutor Corey Newman said the judge stopped the questioning because it was repetitive.
Serveto granted Sanfield’s request for a “Daubert” hearing to reconsider Stansbury’s admission as an expert witness in the case. Sanfield insists that Stansbury is not an expert in operating vehicles, noting that he does not have a degree in mechanical engineering.
That session was scheduled to take place on October 1, 2021.
The judge also set a jury trial date for November 8, 2021.
Otto is free after posting a $75,000 bond through a bond company.