Blood-Alcohol Level Deemed Admissible Evidence in Pa. Trial of Wheeling Man

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. – Blood-alcohol level is admissible evidence in the case of a West Virginia man charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence before the death of his son, a Washington County judge ruled last week.

Jonathan Brook Gracey, 53, of Wheeling, was taken to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital, Pittsburgh, by medical helicopter after the April 2019 crash that resulted in the death of Robert James Gracey, 15, on Interstate 70 in a construction zone near Washington.

The father’s blood-alcohol level registered at 0.151%, according to state police. Intoxication is presumed at .08% above, according to state law.

Gracey’s attorney, Chad Schneider, submitted case law about granting informed consent before blood could be drawn, but Deputy District Attorney Leslie Ridge argued that it applied only to an unconscious person, and that Gracey, at the time, was coherent.

State police Trooper Jonnie Schooley testified earlier this month that the driver had to be extricated from his vehicle.

Gracey was conscious before his blood was analyzed at the hospital. Trooper Tim Schonbachler read Gracey a consent form and he signed it, the officer testified.

Judge Valarie Costanzo signed an order last week denying Gracey’s motion to suppress evidence.

She scheduled the defendant’s next court appearance for Monday, Jan. 4.

State police filed charges including involuntary manslaughter nearly six months after the crash occurred near the Chestnut Street interchange near Washington.

The teenage passenger was ejected from the vehicle when it rear-ended a tractor-trailer that was stopped in westbound traffic at night in North Franklin Township.

The defendant remains free on $100,000 unsecured bond.


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