Defense, prosecution rest in trial of Collegeville man accused of fatal drunken ATV crash

At the heart of the case: Who was driving?

Jim Melwert
June 05, 2018 - 8:55 am
Steven Gismonde

Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Montgomery County jury is deciding the fate of a 33-year-old Collegeville man accused of driving his ATV while drunk and killing his passenger in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2016. Testimony wrapped up on Monday.

Defense attorney Carrie Allman says it’s tragic, but sometimes an accident is just an accident. She argued that it wasn’t her client, Steven Gismonde, who was operating the ATV when it went through a stop sign on Greenwood Avenue and crashed into a car going 60 mph on Ridge Pike just west of Trappe. Instead, she says, it was Sydney Stone, his 21-year-old passenger.

Both Gismonde and Stone were thrown from the vehicle. He survived his injuries. She was pronounced dead at Pottstown Hospital.

But prosecutor Kathleen McLaughlin argued that, while it’s tragic, it’s not an accident. She pointed to the defendant as she told the jury it’s the result of his poor decisions. Prosecutors said Gismonde was operating the ATV while legally drunk.

A defense expert testified there is no evidence to show definitively who was driving the ATV at the time of the crash.

Prosecutors point to a statement from the driver of the car, who said she saw a man driving and a woman on the back, and also to Gismonde’s broken thumb. They say Gismonde and Stone had similar injuries except for that fractured thumb, which they argue shows he was holding the handle bars of the ATV at the time of the crash.

Gismonde is charged with homicide by vehicle DUI and accident involving death without a license.

By late Tuesday afternoon  and five hours of deliberations  the jury told the judge they can’t reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges. 

The judge has sent them back to continue deliberations.