Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Crash victim calls driver 'hillbilly moron'

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BATON ROUGE- Danny Morris didn't pull punches when speaking about the defense attorney for the man accused of hitting him and killing his best friend.

"That guy is a complete hillbilly moron," said Morris, referring to the defense's attempt to put onus on the two cyclist because they were wearing dark clothing, "show me a law, anywhere, that says something about the clothing. Do we have a dress code in Louisiana?"

Morris was permanently injured in January 2012 and his friend, Nathan Crowson, was killed when Joseph Branch slammed into the two while they road bikes down Perkins Road.

Branch faces charges of vehicular homicide and first degree vehicular negligent injury.

The prosecution says Branch was drunk at the time, blowing a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading at least three times the legal limit.

But the defense hopes to show that the device used to take a BAC was faulty at the time of the reading.

It's why the prosecution is using broad strokes in an attempt to convince the jury that alcohol was the major factor in the crash.

In court, prosecutors showed the jury video of the field sobriety test conducted minutes after the crash. In the video, Branch is seen stumbling, using mild expletives and even struggling with the Baton Rouge Police Officer conducting the test, telling him "you're pissing me off" while the officer asked him to complete simple commands.

Branch's family shed tears as the victim's family and friends watched the man try to complete the test, but ultimately failing.

The defense also hopes to convince jurors that anyone in a similar situation would have hit the two cyclist because they didn't wear reflective clothing, but at least two witnesses that took the stand left that argument on shaky ground.

One witness, who saw the crash first hand, says they warned their driver to "be careful of the two cyclist in the right hand lane," before easily avoiding the men as Branch's vehicle approached at what they thought was a high rate of speed.

The witness exclaimed, "Oh my God, he's gonna hit the cyclist," seconds before describing Branch's vehicle slamming into the two men, sending Crowson flying over the car, before his lifeless body landed on the trunk.

Branch admitted to the officer, who noted that the man faced a DWI conviction in the past, that he had been drinking "Jack & Coke" at the Bulldog before getting into his car.

 The prosecution is expected to bring in employees from the Bulldog to testify about how much Branch was drinking before he left the bar.

As for Morris, who still uses a cane and brace to get around, he would not bridle his words when speaking about the man who killed his friend and injured him.

"No sympathy whatsoever, no remorse, the guys a killer as far as I'm concerned, he's cold blooded," said Morris. "He knows what he did and has no remorse for it, he's trying to get away with it, he's trying to get mommy and daddy to bail him out, but this thing he did ... he didn't even get out of the car! He ran over somebody, killed my friend, he hit me then he's on his phone texting! He didn't even get out his car to see if we were ok, somebody else did. What does that say about the person?"

The trial will continue tomorrow in Judge Mike Erwin's courtroom. It's expected to last through the week.


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