State v. Glosenger, 20210136-CA

CourtCourt of Appeals of Utah
Writing for the CourtCHRISTIANSEN FORSTER, JUDGE
Citation2022 UT App 129
PartiesState of Utah, Appellant, v. Toni Dannelle Glosenger, Appellee.
Docket Number20210136-CA
Decision Date17 November 2022

2022 UT App 129

State of Utah, Appellant,
v.

Toni Dannelle Glosenger, Appellee.

No. 20210136-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah

November 17, 2022


Seventh District Court, Monticello Department The Honorable Don Torgerson No. 201700078

Sean D. Reyes, Nathan H. Jack, and Christopher D. Ballard, Attorneys for Appellant

Emily Adams and Sara Pfrommer, Attorneys for Appellee

Judge Michele M. Christiansen Forster authored this Opinion, in which Judge David N. Mortensen and Senior Judge Kate Appleby concurred.[1]

CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER, JUDGE

¶1 While driving from North Dakota to Utah, Toni Dannelle Glosenger steered her truck into oncoming traffic and collided with an SUV. The collision caused the death of Glosenger's passenger and the two people in the SUV. The State charged Glosenger with three counts of manslaughter and a traffic infraction. Following a preliminary hearing, the magistrate declined to bind over Glosenger on the charges on the ground that the State had introduced no evidence other than the fact of the

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collision to prove that Glosenger was criminally reckless. The State appeals the district court's bind over decision, and we reverse.

BACKGROUND[2]

¶2 On a "hot and dry" day in August 2019, Glosenger was driving her pickup truck to Utah, heading southbound on a straight section of a two-lane highway. An SUV towing a boat was driving northbound on the same section of road. Without warning, Glosenger's truck veered into the northbound lane and collided with the SUV. Glosenger sustained serious injuries in the collision; the passenger in Glosenger's truck and the two people in the SUV were killed.[3]

¶3 After the collision, medical and law enforcement personnel arrived on scene and a state trooper (Trooper) began interviewing witnesses. One witness stated that he was following the SUV on the highway "when suddenly . . . a silver pickup truck headed southbound veered into the northbound lane causing a collision with the SUV head-on. The SUV tried steering away, to stop [the collision] from happening, but had no time to make the sudden move." Another witness stated that he was following the SUV when a truck "headed south[] drifted at full speed into the northbound lane and collided into the [SUV]. . . . It happened too quick for the [SUV] to brake or adequately maneuver. The [truck] made no corrective action. . . . The [truck] came . . . over too

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quickly." Trooper did not see or talk to anyone traveling southbound (behind Glosenger's truck) who had witnessed the collision, nor did he see any vehicles other than the truck and the SUV "that appeared to be tied up or involved in [the] crash."

¶4 Trooper also examined the crash scene. He observed "[gouges] and markings in the northbound travel lane" closer to "the white line on the shoulder rather than the [yellow] center line . . . in the middle of the road," which indicated that the collision occurred in the northbound lane. Most of the damage to both the truck and the SUV was on "the passenger front," meaning that "it was a front passenger to front passenger collision." There were skid marks on the northbound side of the roadway, caused by the SUV, but there were no skid marks on the southbound side where Glosenger's truck had been.

¶5 A few days after the collision, an agent (Agent) for the State Bureau of Investigation was contacted to perform a follow-up investigation regarding the collision. Agent assisted the Major Collision Investigation Team in preparing a report (the Report), using information from, among other things, an internal module in Glosenger's truck that records driving data. The Report showed that Glosenger was driving 67.2 miles per hour 5 seconds before the collision and 68 miles per hour at the time of the collision (the speed limit was 65 miles per hour). There were no "spikes" or "drop[s]" in speed, "which would be consistent with drowsy driving."

¶6 The Report also showed that five seconds before the collision, Glosenger's steering wheel was angled slightly to the left as she navigated a "slight curve" in the highway. As the road transitioned into a "straightaway," the wheel "started to come back straight between 3.5 seconds to 0.3 seconds prior to the crash." However, in the last 0.3 seconds prior to impact, the wheel abruptly turned to the left "from 5 percent to almost 36.5 percent." The point of collision occurred as the vehicles traversed the straightaway.

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¶7 Included in the Report was information Agent obtained from Glosenger's cell phone records and from an interview with Glosenger. According to the cell phone records, which Agent obtained via a warrant, "there was no phone activity at the time of the crash." However, the records would indicate only whether there were incoming calls or text messages, not whether the phone was being manipulated at the time of the collision.

¶8 Agent also interviewed Glosenger at the hospital after the collision. Glosenger indicated that she had been "driving for a long time, from North Dakota back to Monticello," and that she stopped in Colorado to take "one nap." She did not remember "any specific details . . . about the actual crash and what happened."

¶9 The State charged Glosenger with three counts of manslaughter and a traffic infraction. At a preliminary hearing, the State presented the evidence detailed above. Agent explained the summary of findings in the Report, namely that speed, weather, the condition of the roadway, and mechanical issues were not factors in the collision. Moreover, there was "no indication of drowsy driving or a medical issue at the time of the collision." And although Glosenger had "a history of seizures," she "was taking medication to manage them" and the medication "was all within therapeutic ranges." In light of these findings, the Report noted that "[d]istracted driving is a possible reason for the sudden swerve into the oncoming [SUV's] path."

¶10 In addition, Agent testified about a conversation he had with Glosenger approximately three months after the collision. According to Agent, Glosenger called him to discuss details she had since remembered about the collision. During the call, Glosenger stated that

she was in [the] passing lane just prior to the area of the crash and there was a [semi-truck] in front of her that she was going to pass, and she started to pass
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them. And then as the lane ended, she found herself in the opposite lane of travel.
She . . . felt at the time the best option she had was to go into oncoming traffic and try to cross the road versus just applying the brakes and slowing down and then veered into oncoming traffic, and that's where she struck the other vehicle.

But Agent explained that based on the other evidence in the case, including the other witness...

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