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Tamaqua woman found guilty of drunk driving

Published June 05. 2013 05:03PM

A jury found a Tamaqua police officer's testimony convincing and convicted Crystal Fegley, 33, of 109 Lafayette St., Tamaqua, of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, as well as guilty of refusing to submit to a blood test, which carries added penalties, following a one day trial Tuesday in Schuylkill County court.

Judge James P. Good deferred sentencing to Friday, July 26. After the verdict was read Goodman also found her guilty of two counts of stop sign violations and fined her $50 and costs.

Patrolman Thomas Duarte was the key witness for the Commonwealth in the case against Fegley. A veteran on the Tamaqua police force, his record of being involved between 80 to 90 DUI cases and getting convictions between 35 to 45, gave an expertise weight to his testimony.

Duarte testified he and Patrolman Brent Getz in the early morning hours of Nov. 12, 2012, responded to a call from the home of Keith McFarland, 212 N. Greenwood St., who complained about an uninvited person in the area.

McFarland spoke to police on his front porch and pointed to a vehicle located a short distance from his home. Duarte said he started to approach the car but it took off and he followed in the police car and it went through two stop signs before coming to a stop on Elm Street after he had activated flashing lights.

Duarte said he smelled alcohol on the driver's breath, she admitted drinking three beers, her eyes were glassy and blood shot, and she had difficulty finding her driver's license and insurance card. He asked her to step out and perform a sobriety field test.

He testified she failed the test and was taken to the police station where she refused a blood test.

Duarte was put through an extensive cross examination with most of the questioning dealing with the place the field tests were performed.

The defense claimed his testimony placed it at a location other than what was claimed in the affidavit on which the charge was based. Duarte claimed the test was performed on what looked as a new pavement which was more even and that he didn't know where one property line ended and another began.

Duarte was also requested to demonstrate to the jury what type of tests he asked the defendant to perform and with great dexterity he performed in front of the jury box which included raising one foot and holding it for a count and another test of the walk and turn.

Getz, a part time officer, testified he observed the defendant failing to field tests and later at the police station asked her to submit to a blood test and she refused.

The defendant did not take the stand in her own behalf.

McFarland was called as a defense witness and testified he called the police because he had received a call from Fegley claiming she was coming to commit suicide in front of his home. When he heard a knock on the door he did not answer but called police, he told the court.

Another witness was Lorraine Miller, of 109 Lafayette St., who testified that after the preliminary hearing at the district justice office in Tamaqua, she and the defendant went to the scene where the field tests were administered and took pictures of the pavement in front of 212 Elm St., which showed a broken pavement.

The defense dwelt on the technicality that the testimony differed from where the actual field tests were taken and claimed as a major discrepancy because it was performed on a "horrible" pavement. The defense also pointed out the defendant was distraught because she was in love with McFarland and could have been the reason for her failing a field tests.

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