03/27/2023 - Reconstruction Expert Underpins Police Conclusion in Reckless Murder Trial

During the reckless murder trial of former neurosurgeon Jonathan Pishoi Nakhla, an expert witness, former Alabama State Trooper Ronnie Redding, testified that Nakhla would not have crashed in 2020 if he had been driving within the speed limit.

Redding reconstructed the accident and confirmed Mobile police's conclusion that the Audi R8 Spyder was moving at 138 mph nine seconds before coming to a final rest in a ditch off the Interstate 65 service road in August 2020.

Two- and three-dimensional animations were also presented to depict the accident, with Nakhla's defense arguing that the other driver caused the accident by cutting in front of Nakhla without signaling. However, Redding testified that it only took about 3.5 seconds for the Audi to travel 750 feet from the point where it was moving at 138 mph to the start of skid marks indicating where Nakhla swerved on the westbound service road. Redding also testified that if the car had been going 45 mph, it would have taken 11 seconds to cover the same distance.

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Asked specifically about how it would have played out if the car had been going 45 mph, he said: “This crash would have never occurred.”

Nakhla, 38, was a prominent brain surgeon at Mobile Infirmary at the time of the wreck. He since has lost his job and surrendered his medical license. Testimony indicates that his sports car flipped several times, struck a guardrail and landed upside down a little after midnight. It instantly killed his passenger, 24-year-old medical student Samantha Thomas.

Defense attorney Dennis Knizley challenged Redding on cross-examination about the veracity of his analysis of the car’s event data recorder, known as the “black box.” Knizley pointed out that the report did not contain information about airbag deployments. Redding testified that those deployments were not recorded because of limitations of the black box.

According to Ronnie Redding, the airbags deployed correctly during the crash, but the event was not recorded due to the speed of the incident. Redding explained that everything worked as it was supposed to, but it all happened so fast that it wasn't recorded. Defense attorney Dennis Knizley reminded Redding of his previous testimony, during which Redding stated that he had no explanation for why the black box did not record the airbag deployments. Knizley questioned what had changed since then, as Redding had not conducted any additional tests or consulted any new research materials. Redding responded by stating that he had taken a different approach to the case.

When Defense attorney Dennis Knizley questioned Ronnie Redding's testimony about the airbags, Redding responded that he was not speculating. However, Redding admitted that the explanation he provided was not documented in the "data limitations" section of his written report. Knizley pointed out that Redding's report did not contain the information he had just shared in his testimony.