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Trial begins for former UK student charged in crash that killed Lexington 4-year-old

BBN To Hold Moment Of Silence For Marco Shemwell
Posted at 2:02 PM, Oct 11, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A trial is underway for a former University of Kentucky student charged in the death of a 4-year-old child killed in a DUI crash.

The child, Marco Shemwell, was crossing a street outside a Kentucky football game in Lexington in 2018 when he was struck and killed.

The reckless homicide trial for 21-year-old Jacob Heil began Monday in Fayette County Circuit Court.

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In opening statements, the prosecution says Heil was driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit when he struck Shemwell.

Heil's attorney, Christopher Spedding, says they agree that this is an "unspeakable tragedy" and that "everyone's heart is broken." However, Spedding plans to argue Heil's car never went into the grass and that he was never an impaired driver.

He says witnesses will testify that Heil never appeared to be intoxicated or impaired, including his youth pastor who spoke to him earlier that day.

Spedding says another key factor he aims to prove is that the tire marks at the scene were never be proved to be a match to Heil's car.

"Every time I took my phone out he wanted to take a selfie with mommy... he loved to just sit in my lap and take pictures," said Liz Shemwell, 4-year-old Marco's mother, as she takes the stand.

Liz, choking back tears, says her sons were excited to just have a "Daddy fun day" at the football field. She says Marco loved the "blue team," which is what he called the Wildcats. They were season ticket holders.

"I dropped to my knees as soon as I hung up the phone... I remember saying over and over again, not my baby, not my baby, please God not my baby," said Liz.

The prosecutor now calls Officer Ryan Wells to the stand. He's now focusing on a party he was called to break up the day of the accident. Officer Wells says there was alcohol everywhere, but he did not see Heil there.

Officer Brian Baker now takes the stand and talks about the party as well. He was patrolling on a bike. At one point, he comes across Heil. The body cam from that encounter is now being shown in court.

Heil, who was 18 at the time of the crash, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.051, according to court records. The legal limit for those under 21 is .02.