By Emanuella Grinberg
A California man facing life in prison for crashing his car into a UPS truck will not dispute that his actions resulted in the death of the driver when his trial opens Monday in Nevada County Superior Court.
Instead, Scott Krause's defense will argue that the defendant believed he was trying to escape man-eating subterranean beings when he ran into Drew Reynolds' truck on Jan. 6, 2004.
Krause has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to five felony counts, including first-degree murder, carjacking, and burglary, stemming from a string of alleged criminal activities leading up to the fatal highway crash.
In three court-ordered evaluations, the defendant stated he was fleeing subterranean beings he called "hemadrones" when he carjacked a commercial vehicle near a Nevada City, Calif., gas station and then crashed into Reynolds' service vehicle.
"Everything had to do with his escape from the hemadrones," said Nevada County District Attorney Michael Ferguson. "According to the defendant, he wasFkF afraid they were going to put him in cargo and ship him to China to be eaten."
Calls to public defender Gary Gordon went unanswered.
The evidentiary burden will fall on the defense to prove that Krause, a known methamphetamine addict with a history of drug-related arrests, was suffering from a pre-existing mental condition that either prevented him from understanding the consequences of his actions or knowing the difference between right or wrong.
A psychologist testified in a preliminary hearing that when he examined Krause in 2002, the divorced father of two displayed signs of delusions and paranoid schizophrenia.
He also testified that for at least two years before the incident, Krause was using methamphetamine at least twice a day.
"This is purely a case about mental state," Ferguson said. "Were his actions methamphetamine-induced or was he suffering from a pre-offense illness?"
The state will argue the latter in light of Krause's lengthy rap sheet and evidence that his alleged activities began much earlier that day.
Signs of trouble
Police responded to the home of Krause's ex-wife, Tracie, just after midnight on Jan. 7, 2004, where Krause had unexpectedly showed up "strung out" and in search of a place to crash after his girlfriend kicked him out.
Officers left Krause with the order to dump his can of beer and leave her home, according to police reports.
About 16 hours later, authorities received another call from an elderly woman who said a man later identified as Krause broke into her home and demanded keys to her car. She told police she began to scream, and he left empty-handed.
About 10 minutes later, police received a report that Sierra Tile and Stone truck driver Tina Harrison was sitting in the cab of her truck at a gas station when Krause climbed into the passenger seat, "freaking her out," Ferguson said.
"He didn't force her out, but he scared her and that's enough for a carjacking charge," he said.
As Krause sped onto Highway 49, he swerved around cars and he crossed lanes before slamming into Reynolds' UPS truck, sending it into a utility pole.
At the time of his death, Reynolds, 34, was pursuing a degree in computer science from the University of Phoenix while holding a full-time job with UPS.
After Reynolds' death, a $2,000 scholarship fund was established in his name for adults who are raising families while pursuing a college education at Sierra College's Nevada County campus, from where Reynolds graduated.
Of Krause's lengthy rap sheet, Grass Valley police chief John Foster simply said, "We're aware of him," in an interview with the local newspaper, The Union.
When the accident occurred, Krause was already on misdemeanor probation after pleading to charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance, possessing controlled substance paraphernalia and resisting a peace officer in August 2003.
That arrest occurred four days before he was to begin drug counseling for a previous arrest for possessing a hypodermic needle.
Earlier in 2003, he was arrested for attempted vehicle theft, removing car parts and damaging property while attempting to hot-wire a neighbor's car.
Jurors will have the option of convicting Krause of vehicular manslaughter if they cannot find premeditation in connection with Reynolds' death.
He is also facing charges of carjacking, burglary and battery in connection with the day's previous events.
There are no words...