March 26, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
A home health care nurse puts David Harshberger squarely behind the wheel of the car that minutes later crashed, killing his girlfriend, Samantha Tackett, 30, and their daughter Delorean, 2, on July 18, 2011. Licensed Practical Nurse Krista Barrett was at the home of Clayton and Stella Cable on Carpenter Road on July 18, caring for Clayton Cable.
Under direct examination by Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor Matthew Wisecup, Barrett said Harshberger was walking around with a rifle, which he carried into the computer room. Barrett said she heard Harshberger talking “loudly” with Tackett, saying things such as, “I thought you loved me,” and “do you love me?” but she could not hear Tackett’s response. Barrett also said he was “not himself,” and acted “like he was aggravated.” She also described Harshberger as “erratic.”
Barrett broke down momentarily when she described seeing Harshberger grab Delorean from the couch and go outside. She said she saw Harshberger holding the child, having a discussion with Tackett. She said she saw Harshberger get behind the wheel of the car and saw Tackett in the passenger seat. She was unable to see the child.
“Who was driving the vehicle when it pulled out?” Wisecup asked.
“Mr. Harshberger,” Barrett responded.
On Monday, in his opening statement in his own behalf, Harshberger told the jury he was not even in the car at the time it crashed. He told the jury Tackett was driving, and Delorean sitting on the “bump” in the middle of the front seat area.
Barrett said she later received a call that Samantha and Delorean had been in a crash. She woke Stella Cable, told her about the crash and Cable left for the scene.
Earlier in the day, Cable testified that Harshberger was walking around in an erratic manner the night before (July 17). She said he was looking for a brown box. She went on to say he was “talking 90 miles a minute,” and that he was angry because she wouldn’t give him the keys to the car so he could go get Red Bull.
Cable became emotional when she talked about getting the news and going to the scene of the crash. She said Harshberger was acting the same as he had the night before.
Under cross examination by Harshberger, he asked Cable how she observed he and Tackett interacting with each other, and she responded, “At the last you argued a lot.”
Two phone conversations were played for the jury. One was a call from Harshberger to Cable the day of the crash, in which it was difficult to understand what he was saying and the other was weeks later from the Scioto County Jail, in which Harshberger kept saying, “I love you mama.”
Cable said, “You don’t know how my heart hurts. You don’t know how I feel.”
One poignant moment came when Harshberger said, “I was high, but I wasn’t that high.”
Also testifying in the morning were Joe Comer, Tackett’s brother-in-law, and Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper David Richendollar. Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn took Richendollar through the gruesome crash scene photos which included the bodies of the two victims, and Richendollar insisted the passenger side door was open when the crash occurred.
Richendollar said back at the OSHP headquarters, Harshberger appeared to be asleep with his head on a table.
“He would wake up and mumble,” Richendollar said. “You couldn’t understand what he was saying.”
The trial goes into it’s third day today in the court room of Scioto County Common Pleas Judge Howard H. Harcha, III.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101,ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.