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UPDATE: New witness called in Comerzan trial

New witness called in Comerzan trial

St. Charles, Mo - UPDATE: The state called a new witness in the Comerzan trial on Tuesday afternoon.

Chris See was a coworker of Comerzan's who was referenced frequently in the first trial last May but never appeared. He was subpoenaed by the state to appear in court Tuesday.

See, who said he hasn't spoken to Comerzan since 2015, told jurors that they were working together on a construction site in Columbia on the same day Trooper James Bava died: Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

After they finished work in the early afternoon, See said the two had lunch and worked out at Gold's Gym in Columbia. Then they dropped Comerzan's motorcycle off at See's house in Millersburg so he could paint it.

Prosecutor Scott Fox wanted to know if the two had already made plans for Comerzan to drop the bike at his home. See said they had planned on doing it that weekend but he didn't remember who brought up bringing the motorcycle to his place on Friday.

During cross examination, jurors saw pictures of a text message conversation between Comerzan and See from Aug. 17 where Comerzan asked him to paint his bike.

See also testified during cross examination that he felt intimidated by troopers at an interview he did at the Columbia Police station.

ORIGINAL STORY: The trial for a 22-year-old accused in the death of a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper entered its second day in St. Charles County.

Prosecutors say Serghei Comerzan was speeding in a motorcycle on Route FF in Audrain County in Aug. 2015.

He is accused of deliberately avoiding Trooper James Bava, who was attempting to pull him over for speeds of more than 100 mph. Bava lost control of his cruiser and died in the resulting crash.

Comerzan's attorney Charles James has maintained that there's no way Comerzan could have seen Bava on Route FF and there's not enough evidence to prove Comerzan knew Bava was chasing him.

The state brought multiple state troopers to the stand Tuesday morning and early afternoon. The first few testified about the search for Comerzan's motorcycle. Witnesses reported seeing a black and white "crotch rocket" type bike and troopers were able to match the description to Comerzan's motorcycle. The jury was shown several photos of the bike.

Around 9:30 a.m., the state brought embattled patrol Sergeant Doug McPike to the stand. McPike testified in Comerza's first trial last May, which ended in a mistrial.

McPike supervises several troopers in the Audrain County area, including Bava. He described the pain he felt when he got the first call about Bava's death. He said he was off duty that day and received numerous phone calls about the crash.

When McPike learned Comerzan was a person of interest in the case, he said he "didn't want to believe he was involved" at first. 

Comerzan spent a lot of time growing up with McPike's family, including his son. The first time Comerzan rode a motorcycle was with the McPike family. The two hadn't really seen each other in years before the crash.

McPike interviewed Comerzan the night of the crash but looking back, said he wished he hadn't. He said while he didn't want to believe Comerzan was involved initially, he now fully believes Comerzan was there.

Comerzan initially lied to McPike about his route, telling him in the interview that he didn't take Route FF. McPike told jurors that he sensed Comerzan was lying at the time.

He said he cared and still does care for both Bava and Comerzan.

"I was feeling a lot of things that night," said McPike. "I had emotions you can't even imagine. It's a pretty lonely place."

McPike spent about ninety minutes on the stand getting questioned by the state and the defense about his relationship with both Bava and Comerzan, as well as the interview he had with Comerzan that night. 

Cpl. Matt Haslag took the stand after McPike, and was questioned about the difference between tail lights and break lights. Jurors watched an interview clip of Haslag and Comerzan, where Comerzan said he couldn't tell the difference between the two but admitted to seeing a "police car."

Haslag told jurors that when Comerzan described the lights he saw, Haslag took that to mean brake lights.

"He called them tail lights, but his description was of break lights," Haslag told the jury.

Comerzan is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony resisting arrest. The involuntary manslaughter charge was amended from second-degree murder.

The trial is expected to last through the week.


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