CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The trial for Gregory Wheeling, Jr., who faces a second-degree murder charge, began Monday in a Mecklenburg County courtroom.
In January 2016, Wheeling was driving south on South Blvd just after 5 p.m. when he struck and killed 28-year-old Kelli Putnam. Police said Putnam and her boyfriend had just left a Panthers game and were walking along South Blvd on their way to Mac's Speed Shop, where Putnam worked. Investigators alleged Putnam stepped into the street as she attempted to cross South Blvd. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Dad, I’m standing in front of a police car. A girl ran out in front of my car. I hit her and she passed,” said Gregory Wheeling, Sr., who held back tears on the stand as he recalled the call he received from his son shortly after the accident.
Investigators said that just before the wreck, witnesses claimed Wheeling was speeding. Detectives also determined that alcohol was a factor in the crash and that Wheeling admitted to consuming a couple of alcoholic beverages that day.
But in a pre-trial motion in court Monday, Wheeling’s defense attorney brought his blood-alcohol level into question. Wheeling’s sister, Haley Wheeling told the court that after her brother’s arrest she went to the jail, accompanied by a bail bondsman. She told the court her brother was not given bond and that she also requested her brother receive an independent blood-alcohol test (as was recommended by a defense attorney), but that her request was denied.
The defense attorney also called the arresting officer, Matthew Pressley to the stand.Pressley, an 18-year veteran with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, has served on the DWI task force since it was started back in 2013.
Officer Pressley testified that Wheeling consented to a blood-alcohol level test and took him to CMC-Mercy. But paperwork submitted by the hospital shows officer Pressley checked off boxes, which are typically required if consent was not given. Officer Pressley said he disagreed with what was on the paper, even though he signed it.
Court officials say jury selection for the trial is expected to take place this week, but estimate the trial to last a couple of weeks.