Trial underway for man accused of killing cyclist - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Trial underway for man accused of killing cyclist

Joseph Branch outside of the 19th Judicial District Court. (Source: Derron Daquano/WAFB) Joseph Branch outside of the 19th Judicial District Court. (Source: Derron Daquano/WAFB)
Joseph Branch (Source: EBRSO) Joseph Branch (Source: EBRSO)
Surviving victim Danny Morris walking to the 19th Judicial District Courthouse. (Source: Derron Daquano/WAFB) Surviving victim Danny Morris walking to the 19th Judicial District Courthouse. (Source: Derron Daquano/WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

The jury has been seated in the trial of the man accused of killing a cyclist and critically injuring another during an alleged drunk driving crash. 

Joseph Branch is accused of hitting Nathan Crowson and Daniel Morris on January 21, 2012 on Perkins Road near Pennington Biomedical Center. 

Crowson was pronounced dead at the scene. Morris was in the hospital for nearly a month due to the injuries he suffered in the crash. 

Investigators say Branch had a blood alcohol level of .307 at the time of the crash, which is nearly four times the legal limit. Prosecutors plan to show Branch's drinking led to the accident. 

Branch's attorney, DeVan Pardue, has said in the past that he believes the machine used to test his client's blood alcohol level gave an inaccurate reading. He also noted that the victims tested positive for marijuana. 

"Someone could be nearly passed out or comatosed at .30 so something is not matching," said Pardue. "They chose not to draw blood from him so for whatever reason, I think that speaks for itself." 

The judge decided to go ahead with the scheduled trial despite the defense asking for more time. It took attorneys two hour to select the six jurors and one alternate member who were instructed by the judge to return back to court for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for opening statements. 

The trial is expected to last through the week with a list of over 40 people that could be called up as potential witnesses including law enforcement, friends of the victim and the surviving victim himself. The surviving victim, Morris, is scheduled to take the stand. 

"He'll never have to pay like the way we have," said Morris. "You know, every day of my life I have to deal with this. You see me walking pretty well with the cane. I have to wear a leg brace. Without that I'm limping really bad. So a couple years in jail is nothing compared to what we've had to go through." 

Judge Mike Erwin said Shannon Cooper, the former coroner of East Baton Rouge, has also been subpoenaed to testify in the case, about the cause of death of Nathan Crowson. Erwin said in court Monday that the former coroner has said he does not plan on appearing. Erwin says if they have to arrest him, to get him to court, they will. 

He added, Cooper told them basically, “Go to hell.” 

Branch is charged with vehicular homicide and 1st degree vehicular negligent injuring. 

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