ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On Monday the murder trial began for an Anchorage woman charged with causing a fatal wreck on the Seward Highway last year.
Lori Phillips was under court order not to drink, her driver’s license had been revoked and her latest DUI charge was still pending when the crash happened last November.
She has a long history of drunk driving; five arrests, and two convictions and those who saw Phillips stumble to her car and the drivers who pulled off the road when they saw her SUV in the wrong lane saw it coming that night.
“Louis Clement and Joyua Stovall, along with the other drivers in Anchorage should have been concerned about the roadways, because Lori Phillips was on the road that night. Lori Phillips was driving and she was more dangerous than a snow storm, black ice, or fog,” said Clint Campion, prosecuting attorney, to the jury.
Before the wreck, Phillips was getting a haircut. Her stylist, Jessica Olsen, noticed she "seemed off.”
“I don't know whether she was drunk. I don't know whether she was on pills, but she was on something,” said Olsen.
Olsen said she couldn't smell alcohol on Phillips' breath, but noticed she carried a silver coffee cup.
According to Olsen, she tried to take away Phillips' keys when she went to leave and she even attempted to pull Phillips out of the driver seat of the car.
“I said you can't drive. You are in no shape to be driving,” said Olsen.
Phillips managed to drive away from her, but not before almost hitting another car in the parking lot.
A blood test after the crash showed Phillips was four times over the legal limit.
It's not a question of whether or not Phillips caused the wreck that killed Louis Clement, the driver of the other car and critically injured his girlfriend, Joyua Stovall, but her attorney, Rex Butler, says it wasn't Phillips' intention to kill anyone.
“What you will decide is not just what occurred by what should be the final outcome,” Butler told the jury.
Butler asked Olsen whether the chemical from her hair perm could have made her act strangely or perhaps it was a medical condition like a stroke.
The defense claims it was a bad situation, but not murder.
Everyone who saw it coming tried to help, but the two in the other car, who couldn't see it coming, were hit head-on before they even had time to brake.
Lawyers say it took longer to seat a jury than it will to try to case, because of the media attention surrounding the crash many potential jurors had hear about the case.
This week the victim who survived will take the stand.