The man who crashed into a family of five, leaving all of them dead, claimed the accident happened because of another driver's road rage, according to multiple media reports
Opening arguments were heard Tuesday in a Kenton County courtroom for Daniel Greis, who police say was drunk and high last fall when he collided head-on with another vehicle while traveling 100 mph in Independence.
Greis, 58, faces five counts of wanton murder following the crash that took the lives of Rodney Pollitt Jr., 26, Samantha Malohn, 27, and their children, Hailieann, 9, Brendan, 8, and 6-year-old Callie Pollitt. They were on the way to see their grandparents, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Defense attorney Stacey Graus blamed road rage for the accident, saying that a driver in front of Greis wouldn't allow him to pass, leaving Greis in "no man's land" on the two-lane road where the accident took place at 4:42 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2017, according to the Enquirer.
Graus said Jesse Phillips, the man driving in front of Greis, wouldn't allow Greis and his Honda Pilot to pass before Greis crossed the center line and collided with the Pollitt family, according to WCPO in Cincinnati.
The crash took the roof off the family's 1993 Honda Accord, the Enquirer reported.
A first responder called the scene "worse than anything Hollywood could dream up," WCPO reported.
Maria Schletker, the assistant commonwealth and prosecuting attorney in the case, said the blame falls squarely on Greis, who registered a blood-alcohol level between .083 and .092 the day of the accident. In Kentucky, a person is considered to be legally drunk at a blood alcohol level of .08. Greis, who also tested positive for marijuana at the time of the crash, was airlifted to University of Cincinnati Medical Center with multiple fractures.
Greis told EMTs he had been playing golf in Campbell County and was on his way home to Independence, according to court records.
"He was drunk and high when he got behind the wheel," Schletker said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He was speeding, tailgating and crossed the center line."
On Tuesday, the defense team played pre-recorded clips of Jesse Phillips, the man who was traveling in front of Greis.
“I had my daughter in the truck, I sped up because I didn’t want him to pass me," Phillips said, according to WKRC. "He tried passing me, I didn’t want him passing me because this road aint made for passing. I freaking sped up, I sped up.”
Greis, who faces a life sentence if convicted, pleaded not guilty to all charges in January.