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Defense attorney says driver didn't know he hit UK student

After an evening at Two Keys Tavern, Connie Blount and her friend Ryan Gish were crossing Broadway near Maxwell Street to get home.

Blount stopped and kneeled. Gish motioned his arms and told her to "come on" as a silver truck barrelled southbound toward her.

The truck never stopped, striking Blount and throwing her several feet, Gish testified Wednesday in Fayette Circuit Court. The truck struck a curb, then squealed its tires and left. It never stopped to help Blount.

Blount, 18, a University of Kentucky student who loved horses and was studying equestrian science, died hours later at UK Hospital.

Testimony began Wednesday in the hit-and-run trial of Shannon D. Houser, 37, who is charged with fleeing the scene, tampering with physical evidence and marijuana possession.

Houser is not charged with murder, and his attorney, Ed Dove, emphasized that point to jurors during his opening statement.

Houser never saw Blount, who was wearing dark clothes on the early morning of April 13, 2008, and he never knew he struck her, Dove said.

Dove said it was rainy and the street was poorly lit. Houser saw Gish moving his arms, and his "natural reaction" was to focus on him, the lawyer said.

Houser, a mechanic, heard a thump, looked in his rear-view mirror and saw nothing, and proceeded to his garage on Rudy Street, Dove said.

Prosecutors say Houser removed the truck's bumper and grill in an attempt to hide evidence.

Dove, however, said that, when police stopped by Houser's home, Houser never tried to conceal that he had taken off the bumper. Police later found blood on the grill, under the truck's cabin and on its chassis.

Dove said Houser would have washed the truck — and its parts — if he had been trying to conceal the accident.

But investigators have said that Houser acted in a manner that aroused suspicion when they spoke to him. Houser even brought up the collision without prompting, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Cynthia Rieker said.

Rieker also referred to tire marks in the street and on the curb. Houser said he hadn't struck the curb, Dove said.

The trial is expected to end on Thursday.