SAN DIEGO – A witness was emotional Tuesday while describing a chaotic situation unfold during the "Zombie Walk" parade that lead to a woman being seriously injured.
Misty Sanchez, a makeup artist for international students participating in the "Zombie Walk," testified in the trial of a deaf motorist accused of driving his car through a crowd watching the "Zombie Walk'' parade during the 2014 Comic-Con convention in San Diego.
Sanchez was standing with the crowd in the Gaslamp Quarter watching the zombies walk around.
Sanchez said she heard repeated sounds of a revving engine from a car on the street. She said the driver was yelling through his window before the car plowed through the crowd of people.
"[A woman standing in the crowd] fell and he just floored it right over her. You could see the car lift right over her. Then, you saw him just take off," Sanchez said. "It was horrible because you had to think for a moment – is she dead? Is she alive?"
In his opening statement Monday in the trial of Matthew Pocci, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna said the defendant stopped for several minutes on Second Avenue and even turned his engine off for a few moments before honking his horn "loudly, aggressively'' and driving into a group of onlookers.
He said Pocci, 47, was frustrated and impatient as he moved his car forward while the parade proceeded down Island Avenue. Spectators pleaded with him to stop, but he appeared agitated when someone sat on the side of the hood, the prosecutor said.
"He floored it -- he accelerated his car so fast he left skid marks on the street,'' Campagna told the jury.
A woman was run over and nearly lost her arm, he said. A photograph showed tire tread marks on her bruised forearm.
Pocci faces three years in prison if convicted of felony reckless driving causing great bodily injury on July 26, 2014.
Defense attorney Ashby Sorensen said the case will come down to differing perceptions. His client is unable to hear, and two other adults in the vehicle are also deaf.
Pocci lives in "a different reality'' because of his condition, Sorensen said.
He contends his client drove into the intersection when people waved him through, but two large men climbed on the car, "acting very rude, acting disruptive,'' Sorensen said. "A lot of people would think they were threatening.''
His client had attended the annual celebration of the popular arts at the San Diego Convention Center as a volunteer assisting deaf attendees and had just left the center with his girlfriend, her son and her mother, the lawyer said.
Campagna said spectators were lined up three-deep along Island Avenue to watch the march of Comic-Con attendees in Halloween-type costumes, including in Gaslamp Quarter intersections. It was clear that a parade was going on and that the defendant would have to wait, he said.
The prosecutor said the incident took place just after a pedicab driver pulled in ahead of Pocci.
"At some point, he became impatient and didn't feel like he should have to wait there anymore,'' Campagna said.
Pocci drove off after running over the woman, but stopped a couple of blocks later and contacted a police officer. He was not initially cited, but the District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and in February sent the defendant a letter informing him of the charge.
The trial is scheduled to last about one week in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Amalia Meza.