Christina Renee Crowe was before Newton County Superior Court Judge Horace J. Johnson, Jr., Thursday afternoon, requesting a new trial after being found guilty in the death of 7-year-old Bobby Joe Couch in December.Crowe was sentenced to serve at least 10 years of a 25-year prison term on charges of homicide by vehicle and DUI, among others. She was represented in her bench trial by attorneys from the public defenders office, Deepa Patel and circuit public defender Anthony Carter.
Her new attorney, John Strauss, brought the motion for a new trial before the judge citing ineffective assistance of council — essentially saying that her first set of attorney’s didn’t do a good enough job in her defense, and their poor performance led to the negative outcome of her bench trial.
Strauss brought in Dr. Vernon J. Henderson, the doctor who treated Crowe when she was flown to Atlanta Medical Center following the accident which killed Couch on Nov. 7, 2008. The doctor testified that Crowe was suffering from a concussion and that she was given two different drugs for pain — Demerol and Percocet — prior to being visited by a trooper from the Georgia State Patrol.
He also testified that her head injury and the fact she was under the influence of those two drugs at the time of the trooper’s visit could have caused her to have slow or slurred speech and glassy eyes, things that can also point to alcohol intoxication. He also said that he had not spoken to Crowe’s previous attorneys.
Henderson did say, when asked by Assistant District Attorney Anne Kurtz, that those drugs would not cause a person to test positive for alcohol during a blood test. Crowe’s blood alcohol level was listed as roughly three times the legal limit, several hours after the accident occurred.
Joseph Walden, a family friend for several years, told the judge that he saw Crowe when she stopped by a home he was at to pick up Couch and his younger brother, minutes before the fatal accident. He testified that she did not appear to be intoxicated, but did say he gave a truthful interview to GSP Troopers following the accident in which he said he smelled alcohol on her that day.
Crowe also took the stand, saying that she disagreed with several stipulated facts that came out during the bench trial, but that her public defenders told her to sign the paper stating she agreed with them anyway and that they would be dealt with during her appeal.
Patel testified that she and Carter went over the facts with Crowe prior to her trial.
"I wouldn’t have had her sign anything she wasn’t comfortable with," said Patel.
Carter said he didn’t recall Crowe pointing out any issues with the stipulations. He also testified that once the judge had denied their motion to suppress the toxicology report with Crowe’s blood alcohol level, his strategy was to get her as light a sentence as possible and appeal the motion to suppress.
Johnson told both Strauss and Kurtz to get any additional information to him within a set amount of time. He will rule on the motion for a new trial at a later date.