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Early one morning 15 months ago, say Florida prosecutors, David Farrall got into his green 1998 Honda Accord after the Monday night football broadcast had ended and drove drunk the wrong way on the highway. The head-on collision that ensued killed two young black men who had spent the night at choir practice. Farrall, an FBI agent, survived to stand trial on March 19 on six counts of vehicular homicide and manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty, maintaining that he drove in the proper direction and was not inebriated. As part of his effort to ready his argument that he has been railroaded, Farrall spent several hours at his lawyer’s office on Feb. 15. There, in an eighth-floor suite, he attempted to duplicate his metabolic experience at a bar the night of the accident: He downed the two 60-ounce pitchers of draft beer, a pint of Coors beer, two Diet Cokes, 10 chicken wings, a hamburger, a baked potato and some fried jalapeno poppers. Defense attorney Bruce Udolf has said that his body-builder client, who weighs 295 pounds and stands 6 feet 3 inches, predicted that a test of his blood would show a legal level of alcohol in his veins. A doctor and a nurse joined attorney and client for the test. The experiment, a rare public glimpse into trial preparation, was just the latest of many do-overs in this tortured case. Florida v. Farrall, No. 00-1060CF10A. WRONG CONCLUSIONS Originally, the Florida Highway Patrol said that the two victims were the ones traveling the wrong way. At the scene, their wrecked car faced south in a northbound lane. The Highway Patrol issued a news release faulting the victims. One month later, after public cries that law enforcement was protecting its own, the Highway Patrol conceded in a 175-page report that its officers — all of them — made the wrong conclusions on the scene. The report noted that the blood drawn from the FBI agent in the hospital, some 45 minutes after the collision, showed an alcohol level of 0.177 percent. Florida has a 0.08 legal limit. A subsequent investigation by a state prosecutor, at the request of Gov. Jeb Bush, concluded that FBI agents had obstructed the investigation. Both that report and the Patrol’s review deemed the police errors unintended. Now, apparently, Farrall’s defense attorney is preparing to say that in this racially loaded case, the investigators also mishandled the blood evidence. The jury may never hear of the test in Udolf’s office. Its existence was made public through a fluke: A condition of his client’s bail was that he not drink. To conduct this part of his investigation into Farrall’s defense, the attorney asked the judge to allow a one-day waiver. He filed the motion under seal to avoid tipping off the prosecution. The judge, however, called a hearing. Asst. State Attorney Michael Horowitz says that he had no grounds to object. If Udolf wants to use the test in the trial, he faces issues of admissibility. How relevant is it to the events of Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, 1999? “I don’t see any conditions that are the same, mental or physical,” Judge Marc Gold said at the hearing. Udolf declines to elaborate on his hearing statements. Udolf said at the hearing that the medical examiner’s office could not provide his experts enough blood to test the blood-alcohol level independently. Horowitz did not account for the inadequate blood sample, nor did he return calls on the subject. Two people familiar with the investigation said that the police subpoenaed blood that the hospital staff drew upon admission and had saved for typing later. The standard practice is for the officer to ask a licensed phlebotomist to draw it using a police kit. “If there was any suspicion of DUI,” Broward County’s former chief toxicologist, Dr. Teri Stockham, says, “they collected a blood kit themselves.” Normally, the medical examiner works from the first vial, and the second is saved for the defense or re-analysis. The deviation means that Udolf may be able to raise doubts about the blood’s handling. “Almost none of the hospitals adhere to what forensic standards are,” contends Kevin Kulik, a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney. It’s Udolf’s burden of proof, though. If the defense can knock out the prosecution’s blood evidence — the official blood alcohol level is 0.14, converted from the 0.177 serum reading — then the team has a better chance of getting its recent beer-drinking test admitted. If Farrall is called to testify, he surely will have to answer for his drinking (which got him fired from the FBI), and that would allow him to discuss his view that he wasn’t impaired from ingesting the better part of two pitchers of beer, and then another full bottle. This would allow him to move to introduce the test results. SUFFICIENTLY RIGOROUS? That will happen only if the judge deems it sufficiently rigorous. To structure the test, Udolf has more than Farrall’s own word for what he consumed. A tavern receipt in evidence indicates the times that Farrall was at the saloon (he was there with his FBI supervisor) and the order in which the comestibles arrived at their table. His phlebotomist was to draw the blood three times an hour, and witnesses saw the defense team videotaping the procession as they left the office around 1:30 a.m. for the lab. (The judge had ordered Farrall not to leave the building until his blood alcohol level reached zero.) Kulik is one of several attorneys who had never heard of a DUI experiment like this to refute a blood test. “I might do it, though. It’s a good idea,” he says. The victims’ mother told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, “I think it’s ridiculous.”

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