Doctor testifies about methadone at trial of man accused of hitting, killing trooper

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CLEVELAND – A doctor, who prescribed methadone to Joshua Gaspar, testified that he believes patients taking part in methadone therapy are able to drive.

Gaspar is facing numerous charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, in connection with a crash that claimed the life of Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez.

Prosecutors said Gaspar was impaired at the time of the crash. He had methadone in his system. Dr. Richard DeFranco testified Tuesday afternoon in the trial.

Attorney Jonathan Sinn, who represents Gaspar, said his client took a prescribed amount at the doctor’s office, while battling an opioid addiction. He maintains his client was not impaired.

“Management practice is that patients on methadone maintenance therapy can drive as well as patients not on methadone maintenance therapy," DeFranco told jurors.

The doctor was one of several witnesses called by prosecutor's during the fifth day of testimony.

Prosecutors also maintain Gaspar did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the crash. They presented court and law enforcement officials from Alabama, who testified that Gaspar's Alabama driver's license was suspended in 2015 for six months.

"It is still suspended," said Deena Pregno, of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. "He never applied for reinstatement."

But Gaspar's attorney said his client moved back to Ohio in 2016, where he applied and got a license after he thought the Alabama suspension had expired.

Sinn said Alabama officials did not put a block on his license. So when Ohio officials checked for suspensions nothing showed up.

"You guys didn't do what you were suppose to do and Ohio gave him a valid license, whose fault is that," Sinn questioned.

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue Wednesday.

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