INDIANAPOLIS — A former Indianapolis police officer convicted of killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others while driving drunk in his police cruiser lost his initial appeal Wednesday.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of David Bisard, who was found guilty in 2013 on nine counts of drunken driving, reckless homicide and criminal recklessness stemming from the 2010 crash.
Bisard's appeal claimed that Allen County Judge John Surbeck should have declared a mistrial after a juror conducted Internet research on the case and reported the findings to other jurors. That juror was excused.
He also contended he was denied his due process right to present a defense when prosecutors presented expert testimony about what it meant to be a "tolerant drinker." The phrase described someone who is a heavy drinker and consumes alcohol over long periods of time without exhibiting pronounced signs of intoxication.
The expert was brought in to counter defense witnesses' testimony that they saw no signs that Bisard was intoxicated, even though his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
Bisard wanted to present testimony to rebut the suggestion that he was a tolerant drinker, but the judge said that would open the door for the state to present evidence of a subsequent drunken driving arrest.
The appeals court rejected those arguments in its unanimous ruling, saying the trial court was in the best position to determine whether a mistrial was warranted and noting that Bisard still could have presented witnesses to testify they had never seen him intoxicated.
"Defendants often must make hard evidentiary choices. Here, Bisard's choice may have been difficult, but it remains that he had a choice to make," they wrote.
Bisard was sentenced to 16 years in prison, with three years suspended.
The case was marked with turmoil from the beginning, and the trial was moved to Allen County because of extensive publicity in Indianapolis. Questions about city police officers' handling of the crash scene and the blood samples taken from Bisard stirred public distrust and led to disciplinary action against several high-ranking officers, including the demotion of the police chief.
An attorney for Bisard did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry issued a statement, saying: "The only ultimate satisfaction that this decision delivers is that justice has been served on behalf of Eric Wells, Mary Mills, and Kurt Weekly," he said.
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