Expert discounts Lankford’s story
Physics and features of the truck make the account impossible, according to testimony
The crash involving Masumi Watanabe and her dive to her death out of a moving vehicle could not have happened the way murder defendant Kirk Matthew Lankford has told it, according to an accident reconstructionist in court yesterday.
Lankford, 23, is on trial on a charge of murdering Watanabe. The 21-year-old Japanese visitor has been missing since April 12.
Prosecution expert Kenneth Baker said if Lankford's Hauoli Termite & Pest Control work truck hit one or both of Watanabe's outstretched arms at 20 to 25 mph, she would have suffered more than scratches to one or both of her hands.
"I would expect to see perhaps tearing flesh, broken bones at the very least. Maybe, if it does involve directly the elbow, broken elbow, maybe a broken shoulder, at the very least," he said.
Lankford testified earlier that he accidentally hit Watanabe with his work truck but that the impact did not cause any visible injuries beyond scratches.
Baker also said the truck's radio antenna would have hit Watanabe's arms, and the truck's passenger side mirror would have hit her body. And both the antenna and the mirror would have been damaged in the impact. When he looked at Lankford's work truck, Baker said he saw no damage to the antenna or mirror.
Lankford also testified that Watanabe was riding in his truck after the accident and dived out of the moving vehicle, probably striking her head on a rock and that she died near the rock.
Baker said Watanabe would have had a hard time opening the truck's passenger door and diving out at the spot Lankford indicated if the truck was traveling at 35 to 40 mph.
Watanabe would have had to overcome the wind and inertia pushing on the outside of the door to open it, and overcome her body's own inertia pulling her to the driver's side of the vehicle to jump out, Baker said.