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Mt. Lebanon Fatal Pedestrian Accident Trial Begins

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The trial began for the man accused of hitting and killing a mother as she was pushing her two young children in a stroller in Mt. Lebanon last year.

It happened on June 28, 2010.

Lisa Styles was out jogging with her two children in a stroller on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon when prosecutors say Benjamin Cope ran a stop sign at the intersection of Washington and Beadling, hitting Styles and – according to opening arguments – dragging her nearly 18 feet, still clinging to the stroller.

Describing Cope, who is charged with driving under the influence of marijuana during the time of the accident, prosecutors in opening arguments said: “A mother’s courage intersected with a defendant’s selfishness.”

And a former prosecutor turned defense attorney, Bruce Beemer, in his opening statement told the jury: “Sometimes things happen and they are tragic accidents. And I suggest that is what this is.”

Prosecutors played a 911 call made following the accident.

Caller: “She is bleeding internally. We really need an ambulance!”

Operator: “Ok.”

Caller: “Don’t touch her!”

Caroline Saunders, the teenager who made the call, was the first person to take the stand. Breaking down towards the end of her testimony, she described the scene for Styles’ heartbroken family as she waited for paramedics to respond to the scene.

Caller: Ma’am, it’s going to be okay.

Operator: Are you with her?

Caller: I’m with her. I don’t know her. She was pushing her children.

Saunders was babysitting two other children in the area when she passed Styles on the morning June 28, 2010. She described for the jury a large yellow stroller which the prosecution brought into the courtroom with a broken wheel on top.

The prosecution argued that Benjamin Cope had spent the night before the accident smoking marijuana, a claim the defense says test results will dispute.

Whether Cope was under the influence will play a role in how the jury looks at what happened to the mother of two out for a jog on a busy Mt. Lebanon road.

The trial is expected to last several days.

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