NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Thomas Grooms is on trial in a New Hanover County courtroom for the deaths of David Doolittle and his 17-year-old son, Trey.
On Friday, March 23, the jury watched parts of a video recording of Grooms' field sobriety test.
Sgt. Chad Parks recorded the test, which was performed by Trooper Brian Phillips with the N.C. Highway Patrol. After the test, Phillips requested that Grooms have blood drawn for analysis. He testified that Lt. Eric Jernigan drew blood at 11:14 a.m., almost two hours after the wreck.
DRUG EXPERT PERFORMS MORE TESTS
Phillips also explained that after the accident, he took Grooms to the Highway Patrol Office on Market Street. Lt. T. Radabaugh, of the N.C. Wildlife Commission, met them there and performed more testing on Grooms before he was taken to the New Hanover County Detention Facility.
Radabaugh said that, based on his training, he is one of 110 law enforcement officers in North Carolina who are considered drug recognition experts.
"The reaction, when you mix drugs, is not 1+1=2," explained Radabaugh. "It can vary greatly."
Radabaugh administered several sobriety tests on Grooms at the Highway Patrol Office. He explained to the jury that Grooms was experiencing body tremors, could not follow directions and that the results indicated Grooms was impaired by a stimulant, which speeds up a person's body clock. During a black light test, Radabaugh said he saw a white, powdery substance on Grooms' face and shirt.
GROOMS TELLS EXPERT THAT HE HAD TAKEN ZOLOFT, PERCOCET
Later in the examination, Radabaugh said Grooms told him that he had taken Zoloft and Percocet the previous day. He indicated that he did not have a prescription for the Percocet.
"He (Grooms) would have been incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely," Radabaugh said that was the opinion he made after the evaluation.
JURY RELEASED EARLY
The jury was released just before 11 a.m. After they were gone, Judge Jones heard motions filed by defense attorney Sullivan and District Attorney David.
SCHUMAKER TAKES THE STAND
David called Thelma Schumaker to the stand during the hearing without the jury present. She told the judge that she dated Grooms briefly prior to the Doolittle incident, but that they broke up before the April 3 accident.
She admitted to completing a 28-day alcohol rehab program in Wilmington and "falling off the wagon" in October of 2010, prior to meeting Grooms.
GROOMS SCARES SCHUMAKER WHILE DRIVING
While the two were dating, Schumaker described a traumatic moment that occurred on the night of the 2011 Super Bowl. After an evening of dinner and drinks in downtown Wilmington, the pair was heading back towards Carolina Beach on River Road.
Schumaker testified that Grooms had consumed several alcoholic beverages and was driving fast. She said the car was weaving in and out of the lane and one time a mail box was "kind of close."
She said she was nervous and started having a panic attack, pleading with Grooms to "pull over, pull over, pull over."
After one or two minutes, Grooms eventually did pull over and the two got out of the car. They stood behind the vehicle and talked about his driving for 20 minutes before getting back inside. Grooms then drove the remaining five miles to Schumaker's home.
David asked Schumaker, "Were you concerned for your safety?" She responded, "Yes."
Shortly after the incident, they broke up.
SCHUMAKER SAYS GROOMS MIXED VODKA, MOUNTAIN DEW
Schumaker, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 4, 2010 to DWI, said that Grooms "always" drove with a red, disposable cup. She said he liked to mix vodka and Mountain Dew soda in it.
She said, Grooms told her that he "drove better after some consumption of a beverage."
INVESTIGATOR TALKS TO SCHUMAKER
District Attorney Investigator Jeffrey "Skip" Hedge told the judge that he looked through Grooms' phone records and saw photos of Schumaker inside his phone. Hedge contacted Schumaker to ask about the incident.
POSSIBILITY OF COCAINE USE DISCUSSED
They discussed the possibility that Grooms was using cocaine during the accident, but Schumaker said she'd be "surprised" if that were true. The cocaine charges against Grooms were later dismissed when the labs came back saying the white substance was not cocaine. Schumaker did tell authorities that her and Grooms smoked what she believed to be "legal marijuana" together and that she frequently has panic attacks.
SEARCH WARRANTS EXECUTED
A search warrant was executed on Grooms' boat in Carolina Beach, which was listed as his primary residence. Officials with the Highway Patrol also took evidence at Grooms' place of business in Southport, including several Mountain Dew bottles and red solo cups.
JUDGE DECIDES TO ALLOW TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF JURY
After Schumaker and Hedge testified, the judge decided to allow the jury to hear from Schumaker on Monday. Judge Jones said Schumaker will not be an expert witness but that she can speak about her observations of Grooms based on her own knowledge.