A mis-trial was declared this morning in the case against Eric Wilkes Durland, 27, who was accused of seriously injuring a woman when he crashed into her car while evading police, four months ago.
Defense attorney Brian Dooley informed the judge today, June 6, that he suspected his client was not mentally competent to assist in his own defense. Judge Blaine Bowman immediately suspended all criminal action and set a date for a mental evaluation of the defendant.
A jury of six men and six women was seated two days ago. They have heard testimony and saw evidence of a police pursuit on the 15 freeway in Northern San Diego County which reached over 130 mph, on February 21.
California Highway Patrol officers testified that it was mid-day when the white Hyundai sedan driven by Durland rear-ended a dark Honda Accord on the 15 freeway near the Escondido area.
Officer Elias Rodriguez said he was overhead in one of the police helicopters called ABLE, AirBorne Law Enforcement. “I heard a call for air support unit.” He said of the specialized helicopter, “We have four.”
Officer Rodriguez said the copter was used in the pursuit of the fugitive vehicle because the Hyundai was outrunning ground vehicles.
“The vehicle was traveling on right and left shoulders, clearly faster than the speed of traffic,” the officer testified. “We tracked the vehicle, I put out updated intersections of the cross streets for other units coordinating spike strips.”
The jury was shown the video captured from the helicopter’s camera. While narrating the video officer Rodriguez pointed out, “He’s outrunning the helicopter, which is going 130 knots.” The video captured the collision between the vehicles.
The alleged victim testified that her seatbelt did not lock, and the force of the collision drove her head into the roof of her car. She said her skull fractured around her right eye socket. She lost use of that eye for about a month, but she is slowly healing, the woman testified. She said she can use that eye somewhat now, although the muscles around that eye become tired and droop.