SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The trial for a woman accused of causing a crash and then slamming her car into the driver on South Campbell Avenue in Springfield went to trial on June 6, 2022. Opening statements and witness testimony began on June 7.
Elizabeth McKeown is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Police said in November 2018, McKeown ran over Barbara Foster at South Campbell Avenue and University Street.
After a recess for lunch, prosecutors called McKeown’s now ex-husband to the stand.
He testified to his and McKeown’s relationship, as well as his knowledge of any medication she was taking.
The court also watched three recorded interviews McKeown did with a Springfield Police detective following the crash.
In the videos, McKeown admits to crashing into Foster’s vehicle, then backing up and running Foster over with McKeown’s Mustang.
Prosecutors plan to wrap up their argument on Wednesday. A majority of Thursday will be spent hearing from witnesses called by the defense.
What McKeown’s defense said
McKeown claimed she was on her way to make a car payment when she hit and ran over Foster. In opening statements, both the prosecution and defense agreed McKeown was driving under the influence when it happened, likely as a result of cough syrup.
McKeown’s defense attorney, Jon Van Arkel claimed McKeown has a liver condition that caused her to have a strong reaction to medications like cough syrup, and that one of those reactions is hallucinations.
Her attorney claimed McKeown experienced drug toxicity from the dextromethorphan in the medicine she took to suppress her cough. McKeown’s defense told the jury they were going to hear testimony from doctors who could explain how a person can experience that level of toxicity when their liver does not metabolize certain drugs properly.
“Consumption of cough syrup was again unknowing, unwitting, involuntary, an accident,” Van Arkel said. “She did not willingly consume cough syrup to get any kind of effect as in euphoria or high from cough syrup. Her intent was to suppress her cough.”
What the prosecution said
Prosecutors said in opening statements that several witnesses saw what happened and even tried to stop McKeown from driving away from the scene after hitting Foster.
Prosecutors said the jury would hear from some of those witnesses and would hear the initial call Foster made to report the first time McKeown hit her car. Officers who responded to the scene will also testify about what they saw when they arrived and will tell the jury how McKeown acted after the incident. One of those officers is the lead investigator on the case, and the jury will see a video of the interviews McKeown had with him.
Prosecuting attorneys said McKeown did not have alcohol in her system but did test positive for dextromethorphan after the crash.
Testimony of Uber driver who witnessed the crash
Justin Devall was an Uber driver who was driving on Campbell Avenue at the time of the crash. His car was equipped with two cameras that captured the incident between McKeown and Foster.
Devall said he saw a black sports car run over a woman, and he leaned on his horn, followed the car, and yelled at the driver (McKeown) that she had run a woman over. Devall said he then called 911 and while he was on the phone, the driver of the black car accelerated and drove into one of the witnesses’ cars.
A portion of Devall’s testimony is in the video below:
Here is a portion of the dash cam video from Devall’s car when he made the 911 call after Foster was run over:
Jurors also heard testimony from McKeown’s ex-husband and a Springfield detective on Tuesday. Her trial will continue Wednesday.