A Maricopa County Superior Court jury found Tollie Matthews guilty of manslaughter last week.
The jury found Matthews, 55, caused the death of Amanda Moreno, a 17-year-old Agua Fria High school senior. The jury agreed with the prosecution’s case Matthews was under the influence of Oxycodone Sept. 27, 2018, when he caused a multi-vehicle crash at Dysart and Osborn Roads in Avondale.
The jury’s Thursday, Feb. 10, decision also found Matthews guilty of two counts of aggravated assault for causing serious injuries of two others, two counts of endangerment and impaired driving.
The court scheduled a March 27 sentencing for Matthews, a Litchfield Park resident.
Matthews was driving a Dodge Challenger south when he veered into the next lane and struck a Nissan Altima in which Moreno was a passenger. After being struck by Matthews’ vehicle the Nissan crossed over the median and hit an ongoing truck. The truck flipped and landed on the hood of another car.
The prosecution called numerous witnesses, including Avondale Police officers Jose Loera, Edward Corona and Justin Iwen.
Iwen, named the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) 2017 Officer of the Year, interviewed Tollie at the scene of the crash.
According to Iwen’s probable cause report, Corona advised him Tollie at first denied being part of the wreck.
“Through my contact with Tollie I observed his eyes were watery and pupils were constricted,” Iwen wrote, in his report. “Tollie’s speech was slow and at times delayed. Tollie appeared to walk or move gingerly and favoring his lower back in his movements.”
Matthews told police he was driving his wife’s Dodge Challenger to put air in the tires. He said he was driving back to his home, less than 3 miles from the accident scene.
Iwen wrote Tollie told him he takes pain medication related to back surgeries.
The officer stated during a field sobriety test within an hour of the collisions, Matthews “missed his finger to his nose on three attempts, his first, third and sixth attempt.”
Prior to the sixth attempt, Matthews “appeared to be startled and stumbled backward.”
The prosecution rested its case Feb. 4. The defense then called two witnesses, Matthews and his wife, Yolanda Matthews.
Prosecuting attorneys Tiffany Brady and Tristan Bigler and Matthews’ attorney Greg Clark made closing arguments Feb. 6.
The jury found Matthews guilty the next day the court was in session.