Jury begins deliberating in case of Ohio trooper killed on Interstate 90

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CLEVELAND – A jury that is deciding the fate of a man accused of hitting and killing an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper last fall has retired for the evening Tuesday. Deliberations will  begin again Wednesday morning.

Defense and prosecutors presented closing arguments to jurors Tuesday morning in Joshua Gaspar’s case.

Gaspar is facing numerous charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, in connection with the Sept. 15 crash that claimed the life of Trooper Kenneth Velez.

Prosecutors said Gaspar was impaired at the time of the crash. He had methadone in his system.

Assistant prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan told jurors that just minutes before Gaspar struck the trooper he took methadone at a clinic in Cleveland. She stressed Gaspar was following the car in front of him too closely and drove in the berm, prior to hitting Trooper Velez.

“Everyone else on the highway slowed down. The defendant chose not to slow down,” Jordan said.

Assistant prosecutor Blaise Thomas told jurors Velez was killed because of the defendant’s actions and dismissed defense arguments that the crash was a “tragic accident.”

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

“The truth is that this was an accident,” Sinn said. “He received a prescribed dose of methadone.”

Sinn also reminded jurors of the testimony from Gaspar’s doctor, who said those taking methadone therapy can drive as well as those not on methadone therapy.

After attorneys finished closing arguments, jurors began deliberations.

The case started two weeks ago. The prosecution rested last week and the defense rested Monday afternoon without Gaspar taking the stand.

Continuing coverage on the death of Trooper Velez here