Harvey’s vehicular homicide trial postponed again

More than a year has now passed since Port Orchard resident Jessica Z. Torres was killed by a suspected drunk driver on her way home from work.

However, the man charged in her death has yet to stand trial.

Stephen T. Harvey Jr., 33, of North Kitsap, was scheduled to begin trial for vehicular homicide in Kitsap County Superior Court Monday, but the proceedings have been postponed again until April 6.

“It’s frustrating,” said Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis. “We would like to get some resolution for the victim’s family.”

Lewis said the prosecution has “quite a few witnesses,” and the defense requested a continuance to be able to interview all of them prior to trial.

One of the first witnesses on the scene of the Jan. 21, 2008, crash on Clear Creek Road was a police officer visiting from Avon, Indiana, who identifies himself as a drug recognition expert and declared that Harvey appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants.

The first Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputy who arrived on scene said he detected “an odor of intoxicants” coming from Harvey. Blood was drawn from the suspect, which was determined by the Washington State Patrol crime lab to contain a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and evidence of marijuana, according to court documents.

Harvey struck Torres as she was driving home from her office in Poulsbo around 5:30 p.m. on the 22600 block of Clear Creek Road. Investigators from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office reported that Harvey, driving a 2001 Volkswagen Passat, veered first onto the northbound shoulder, then overcorrected and drove into the opposite lane of traffic.

Harvey then collided with Torres, driving a 2000 Mazda Protege, pushing her vehicle back 30 feet, then continuing another 70 feet and hitting two trees before stopping. By the time it stopped, Harvey’s vehicle had lost “most of its front end, motor, transmission and entire front passenger side tire assembly,” and the “instrument cluster was ejected.”

Investigators were unable to determine the exact speed that Harvey’s vehicle was traveling at when it struck Torres, but the Passat’s speedometer was reportedly stuck at 75 mph, and deputies determined the vehicle had “lost 44 mph prior to impact.”

Deputies also reportedly found an open and “half-empty,” 1.75-liter bottle of Jim Bean Black whiskey in Harvey’s vehicle.

Torres was critically injured and died at the scene. Harvey was taken to Harrison Medical Center and treated and released.

No occupants other than the drivers were in the vehicles.

Following his release from Harrison, Harvey was arrested and booked into the Kitsap County Jail on suspicion of vehicular homicide. He appeared in Kitsap County Superior Court shortly after the crash, but was not formally arraigned until late last summer.

After he was charged with vehicular homicide, Harvey was first scheduled to stand trial in November, but that date was changed to Feb. 2.

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