SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. – David Johnson will go to trial on 11 counts, including murder charges for the triple-fatal crash in Van Buren County that killed two young sisters and their older cousin on Nov. 13.
Johnson was drunk and behind the wheel the night of the crash. It all happened as he was attempting to pass another vehicle, but instead, smashed head-on into King’s car.
The crash killed Brittney, 24, along with Kandice Berryhill, 2 and Cassadi Berryhill, 4. Kandice and Cassadi’s father, Justin Berryhill, was injured in the crash.
New information came out in court about Brittney that took her family by surprise.
A pathologist testified Wednesday that Brittney, who was driving the car that David Johnson allegedly hit, had such high levels of heroin and pain killers in her body, it might have been a fatal dose to a person who had no tolerance.
“You, I and everyone else involved in this proceeding, we’d all probably be dead with that level of Tramadol,” said Dr. Stephen Cohle. “I think her reaction time could be slowed.”
The prosecutor and the family fought back by saying Brittney was not at fault, but rather it was Johnson who caused their deaths.
“These pictures were taken all throughout their lives,” said Alicia Quinones, the little girls’ mother.
Quinones clutched a homemade picture book of Kandice and Cassadi in court. She said it makes her feel closer to them as she is going through the proceedings.
She said the accusation by the defense that her cousin, Brittney King, may have had something to do with their death adds insult to injury.
“I love my cousin. She was like my sister,” said Quinones. “I really don’t appreciate how they tried to portray her as some drug addict and try to turn this into her fault.”
However, witness testimony last week, including that of passenger Justin Berryhill who survived, indicated that the crash happened so fast, Brittney likely couldn’t have avoided it.
“I didn’t even see the car coming,” said Berryhill. “I was shocked, because I mean, you couldn’t tell. She wasn’t driving no different.”
The judge agreed and sent the case to trial.
“There’s no evidence that Mrs King was driving this vehicle improperly,” said Judge Robert Hentchel. “The defendant caused the accident in this court’s opinion and the accident caused the death of these three people.”
The judge’s decision helped to put the family at ease.
“I was worried about that because they were trying to blame Brittany and that made me sick. She wasn’t the one who was driving drunk. She wasn’t speeding,” said Quinones. “I just don’t like how they try putting it all on her. I guess that’s their job but still, all evidence points to him. He is the criminal. We are the victims and we are the ones that have to suffer for the rest of our lives.”
Dr. Cohle also testified about the nature of the injuries the victims sustained during that accident. He said they all suffered blunt force trauma.
Cohle said that Kandice received trauma to the head from something hitting her from inside of the car. Cassadi mostly had abdominal injuries that were caused by wearing an adult seat belt. All the while, Brittney was injured by the shattering glass.
Justin Berryhill told FOX 17 after court that he wished to thank the prosecutor for all of his hard work to get the case bound over for trial.
“The prosecutor did a really good job, and I’m pleased with him, I’m very happy for what he did,” said Berryhill.
The next court date will be Dec. 27.