Judge will consider evidence before decision in dragging-death case

Local News

Mark Blackwood listens to closing arguments in his trial Wednesday. (photo by Linda Cook.)

The fate of a 64-year-old Davenport man accused in a dragging death in January now rests with a judge.

Judge Mark Fowler presided in a bench trial that began Monday for Mark Blackwood, accused in the Jan. 18 death of pedestrian Eric Johnson. Blackwood faces felony charges of homicide by vehicle – reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident – death.

Both the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments Wednesday in Scott County Court.

The defense

“The state argues ‘Well, you should have looked under your car, Mr. Blackwood. You didn’t see anything behind it, in front it, or to the side,” defense attorney Douglas Scovil said.

“Mere negligence does not translate to recklessness,” he said. “If I don’t’ know I’m involved in an accident with a person, then I’m not guilty of violating … leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.”

Scovil maintained Blackwood knew he was involved in an accident, but he did not know it involved another person. Blackwood went to the Circle Tap to pick up dinner for his family, said Scovil, who said Blackwood stopped after the crash.

The prosecution

“I’m not saying Mr. Blackwood left the Circle Tap that night after having some beers for over two hours, intentionally struck Mr. Johnson, wanted to drag him under his car, that he set out to do that,” said First Assistant County Attorney Amy DeVine. “But the state’s evidence in this case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that that’s what he did, after crossing the center line, straddling the center line. “

“There is no way the defendant didn’t know he struck Eric Johnson,” DeVine said, who added Blackwood “fled the scene.”

DeVine showed photos of Blackwood’s Blazer and its damage after the crash.

The incident, according to arrest affidavits

Shortly after 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Davenport police responded to the area of the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane to an unresponsive man in the road, an arrest affidavit says.

Police say Blackwood was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer when he hit Johnson, who was walking in the 1900 block of Washington Street. Johnson was carried on the hood/front of the vehicle for about 140 feet.

After the initial contact with the vehicle, Johnson fell from the hood and became tangled in the undercarriage of the Blazer.

Blackwood, police say, dragged Johnson nearly 3,000 feet headed north on Washington Street, then east on Central Park Avenue and finally north on Fillmore Lane.

Johnson became dislodged from the Blazer in the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane, where Blackwood did not stop, but continued home, the affidavit says.

Blackwood, the affidavit says, “never reported this crash to police or medical personnel.” Johnson, who was dragged for seven blocks, was pronounced dead later that evening.

Blackwood was identified as the driver after law enforcement reviewed video from the area and through his own statements.

The Blazer was located at Blackwood’s residence the next day with damage from the incident.

Corporal Kristopher Mayer, who has been an officer with Davenport Police Department for just under 21 years, testified again Wednesday. On Monday, he said the scene “was probably one of the biggest scenes I’ve worked on as far as the length and the distance of the scene itself.” On Wednesday, Mayer, who reconstructs crashes, showed a diagram of what may have happened.

Fowler said he wants to take time to review the evidence before he makes a decision, and will contact both attorneys when a decision is made.

In a jury trial, a jury hears the case, and in a bench trial, a judge hears the case and makes the decisions.

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