Tollie Matthews

Tollie Matthews is on trial for causing the death of Amanda Moreno, a 17-year-old Agua Fria High school senior, in 2018. (Photo courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department)

Trial was scheduled to continue this week for the Litchfield Park man accused of causing the death of an Avondale girl.

Tollie Matthews, 55, is accused of being under the influence of Oxycodone Sept. 27, 2018, when he caused a crash at Dysart and Osborn Roads killing Amanda Moreno, a 17-year-old Agua Fria High school senior. 

Court documents accuse Matthews, who was driving a Dodge Challenger southbound, of veering into the next lane and striking a Nissan Altima. Moreno was a passenger in the Nissan, which after being struck by Matthews’ vehicle crossed over the median and hit an ongoing truck, which flipped and hit another car.

In addition to Moreno’s death, Matthews faces charges of injuring four others and driving without an ignition interlock, required from a previous DUI conviction. 

A jury was selected Jan. 16, and Matthews’ trial began Jan. 21, with opening statements by defense attorney, Greg Clark, and Tiffany Brady, a Maricopa County prosecuting attorney.

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. Tollie’s back was to the sun and furthermore in the shade of a tree. Tollie’s movements were slow and lethargic. Tollie’s speech was slow and at times delayed. Tollie appeared to walk or move gingerly and favoring his lower back in his movements,” Iwen wrote.

According to the Avondale officer’s report, Tollie said 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. Tollie denied taking any medication the day of the accident.

The offer stated during a field sobriety test within an hour of the collisions, “Tollie missed his finger to his nose on three attempts, his first, third and sixth attempt. Tollie was slow in his arm movements as he attempted to touch his nose, which became slower the closer he got to his nose.  Prior to Tollie’s sixth attempt he appeared to be startled and stumbled backward.

“Due to Tollie’s level of impairment, he was arrested for driving while impaired to the slightest degree, manslaughter, aggravated assault (two counts) and endangerment (four counts).”

Iwen wrote in his report he and Loera both checked the vehicle Tollie was driving and did not see an ignition interlock device.

According to the report, Iwen later interviewed Tollie at the Avondale jail for a blood draw, which later allegedly showed the presence of Oxycodone, and a drug influence evaluation.  

“It is my opinion Tollie is under the influence of narcotic analgesics and is not able to operate a vehicle safely. During the evaluation Tollie appeared to be on the nod as he was falling asleep,” Iwen wrote.

While Iwen was interviewing Tollie, Loera went to Abrazo West hospital to interview the injured driver of the vehicle Tollie allegedly veered into. The driver’s last name was redacted in a copy of the report provided by the Avondale Police Department to the West Valley View.

According to the report, the driver was driving his friend Moreno to get her a new phone. The driver stated just before the collision, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw  “a car that looked like it was racing.” He said after the car struck him, the last thing he remembered was shielding his face with his hands as his vehicle was pushed into oncoming traffic.

Avondale Police also reviewed dash-camera footage of the collisions from a witness, then submitted the video as evidence.