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Man accused of texting during fatal crash waives his case to higher court

Updated: Wednesday, October 16 2013, 10:24 PM EDT

By Maria Miller

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A Cambria County man accused of causing a crash last year that killed two people was in court Wednesday. Police said Austin Molinich was texting on his phone when he swerved into the other lane. Molinich denies the allegations and his defense attorney says there's no proof.

The last time Molinich was in court was back in June for his formal arraignment. His mother told him not to talk but he still told 6 News he was sorry for the family he hurt. On Wednesday, it appeared as if he wanted to say something more and maybe even approach the family, but his attorney held him back.

"We would like to prevail in the outcome but there's never any winners, really, because it doesn't bring these people back and it doesn't make the feelings that my client feels go away either," said defense attorney Thomas Dickey.

A wooden cross and a pot of flowers mark the spot along Frankstown Road where Don Evans, Sr., 73, and his granddaughter, Cassandra Singer, 19, were killed in the crash in June of 2012.

Police said it happened as Molinich, 18 at the time, swerved off his side of the road and crashed into them head-on. Police allege Molinich was text messaging at the time of the crash, but his attorney said Wednesday there's no proof.

"You don't have to prove your innocence. They have to prove you're guilty," said Dickey. "If they're saying he was texting at the time, then show us the evidence and prove that. We don't believe that it's there. We don't believe they can prove that."

Molinich was scheduled to face a judge Wednesday for a preliminary hearing that's been postponed at least twice, but instead he waived the hearing to a higher court.

"We could have a preliminary hearing today where you don't get access to that evidence," said Dickey. "You know, (a preliminary hearing) irritates families. You do these things that, you know, might have to happen eventually, but doesn't have to happen today."

The district attorney's office said the victims' family was OK with the continuance, but said their emotions are still as strong as when the crash happened. They said they just want answers.

Molinich offered no comment Wednesday, but only at the request of his attorney.

"Just so you know, my client, he wants to speak to the family. He wants to tell them how sorry he is and to quote him, he 'wants to tell them the truth,'" said Dickey. "Unfortunately, the process, the way it works, to maintain integrity, it's just better they don't talk now."

The prosecution said traffic accident deaths are some of the most difficult cases, not only because they're so emotional, but because they're hard to prove. Assistant District Attorney Heath Long admitted that tracking cellphone data is tricky, but told 6 NEws, "At the end of the day, there was something that distracted Molinich, because he was 9 to 12 feet into the other lane when the crash happened."

Man accused of texting during fatal crash waives his case to higher court

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times