UPDATE, Feb 18th: Siffert was found guilty of Negligent Homicide in this case.
A man charged with second-degree murder in a reckless driving incident is in court this week in Parker.
Levi Siffert of Durango, CO is accused of driving at speeds averaging over 90 miles per hour in a heavy-duty GMC truck while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, endangering multiple people in other vehicles on I-10 and ultimately killing the victim in the case, Patty Rodriguez, by slamming into her vehicle from behind.
The incident allegedly occurred on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015. The prosecutor described for the jury, chosen on Monday, the wild and unpredictable behavior Siffert is accused of exhibiting, with witnesses saying they were frightened for their lives by his actions.
“It was like the defendant didn’t know he had a trailer attached,” is how one witness reportedly described it. That witness called 911 from approximately milepost 52, a little under 100 miles from the state line at Blythe/Ehrenberg. The prosecutor told the jury that Siffert then did 100 miles in 68 minutes, triggering a second 911 call from another traveler who said that Siffert forced him onto the shoulder as he passed with a “razor’s edge” to spare and at high speed.
Eventually, Siffert allegedly slammed into the back of Patty Rodriguez, who was driving her Toyota Matrix back from a job interview in California. Her car reportedly spun 325 feet through the desert and then rolled another 60 feet, landing on its right side and killing the victim quickly.
Siffert’s vehicle contained alcohol, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a half-empty bottle of vodka, according to the prosecution.
The defense is expected to challenge the state’s scientific findings, including its claim of Siffert’s blood alcohol content (BAC). A key piece of evidence, the BAC was analyzed by an Arizona Department of Public Safety agent who was later suspended from duty, a central reason that the trial was pushed back until now from an earlier date. The defense may also choose to challenge the conclusions drawn from the quantity of THC in the bloodstream, the active intoxicant in marijuana and an emerging field as marijuana gains acceptance and becomes legal in various jurisdictions.
The trial is expected to last less than 2 weeks, and the jury will be asked to consider 13 counts in total, 7 of which are various items of drug paraphernalia.