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Testimony Starts in 3d-Degree Murder Trial of Speeding Driver

October 31, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert D. James, 215.348.6332, rdjames@buckscounty.org

Louis DeMora Jenna Richards_edited
      Louis Demora                Jenna Richards

Jenna Richards “never had a chance,” a Bucks County jury was told today as the trial began for a man accused of murdering her from behind the wheel of his speeding SUV.

Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James contended that Louis Demora, by driving at least 88 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone while under the influence of heroin, cocaine and Xanax, committed third-degree murder when his GMC Jimmy struck the young Croydon woman’s sedan broadside two blocks from her home on Dec. 20, 2016.

“This is a crash of such violence that a vehicle was nearly torn in half with a young lady sitting inside it,” James told the jury in his opening statement.

Not long afterward, jury members were ushered outside the Justice Center in Doylestown to view in person the wreckage of the two vehicles, which had been towed to the adjacent parking lot with the approval of Judge Brian T. McGuffin, who is presiding over the trial.

Richards, a 22-year-old athlete, died at the scene after setting out from her home for an evening workout.

Demora, 53, told at least four witnesses immediately after the crash that he was trying to hurt or kill himself when the collision occurred, James said.

Both sides have stipulated that Demora’s SUV was traveling a minimum of 88 mph at the time of the crash.

Richards’ Nissan Sentra was sent crashing into two vehicles parked in a driveway near River Road and Cedar Avenue, where the impact occurred.

“The ground shook. It was like an explosion,” said Michael Aragon, whose wife’s Jeep was destroyed and his Subaru sedan was heavily damaged when Richards’ car struck them in his driveway. “I’m still picking up pieces of that little car.”

Stephanie Ruiz, whose rear kitchen window faces River Road, said she looked out to see “an explosion …. There was a vehicle flying in the air.”

The victim’s father, William Richards, testified that he had been wrapping Christmas presents in his nearby home when a friend called, asking why helicopters were circling his street. Richards said he walked two and a half blocks to the crash scene, where emergency workers told him his daughter was dead.

Ruiz, Croydon Fire Chief Thomas Tryon, Tryon’s wife, June, and Bristol Township Police Officer Sean Lyons all testified that they heard Demora say at the scene that he wanted to hurt or kill himself, not anybody else.

“He walked up behind me,” said June Tryon, whose husband had been summoned to the scene while driving home from an elementary school concert with her and their children. “He said, `I didn’t mean to hurt anybody. I just wanted to commit suicide.’ ”

James told the jury that Demora’s intentions were irrelevant; that his choice to drive intoxicated at such a high speed were evidence of the disregard for human life required to prove third-degree murder.

“He did kill Jenna Richards. He did so while high on heroin and while driving 88 miles per hour, nearly cutting her car in half,” he said.

Defense attorney Michael Lacson, in his opening statement, called the crash “a tragic accident that happened in a split second. Despite the bad choices that [Demora] made that night, in no way did he set out to maliciously run into someone.”

Lacson said he would call an expert witness who would testify that the accident was caused by Richards turning left into the path of Demora’s oncoming vehicle.

“The prosecution can’t prove to you that he is a murderer because he didn’t cause the accident,” Lacson told the jury.

James countered that, under normal circumstances, Richards would have been able to safely make the left turn that she had made countless times before in her life.

Demora “was driving nearly four times the speed limit,” James told the jury. “She never had a chance.”

Approved for release by Antonetta Stancu, Deputy District Attorney.

                           

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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