KENTON COUNTY - Daniel Greis removed his glasses and wiped his eyes as potential jurors pondered whether they felt someone should pay. Pay for the deaths of three children killed with their parents in a head-on collision on Oct. 26.
Greis, 58, is charged with five counts of wanton murder. Prosecutors say he was under the influence of marijuana and was legally drunk when the Honda Pilot he was driving hit the family's Honda Accord on Staffordsburg Road in Independence as they drove to the home of the children's grandfather.
Samantha Malohn, 27, Rodney Pollitt Jr., 26, and their three children, Hailieann, 9, Brenden, 8, and 6-year-old Cailie were each declared dead at the scene.
Jury selection took place Tuesday in the Kenton County Circuit Courtroom of Judge Patricia Summe and opening statements were given by both sides.
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Maria Schletker said the family began the morning of Oct. 26 like any other day, and ended it in body bags.
"He was drunk and high when he got behind the wheel," she said of Greis. "He was speeding, tailgating and crossed the center line. He was so close Jesse Phillips couldn't see the front of his car."
Phillips was the motorist in front of Greis. Schletker described the crash, which shaved the roof off the family's Accord.
She detailed the injuries that killed each family member. Vivian Cooper, identified as Malohn's grandmother and the great-grandmother of the three children, cried softly in the courtroom as she listened.
"Mike (the grandfather of the children) waited in the garage, wondering where they were," Schletker said. "He would never see them again. This defendant took them."
Defense attorney Stacey Graus said it was not driving under the influence, but road rage that caused the accident.
He said evidence will show that aggressive driving by Jesse Phillips, who he said would not allow Greis to pass or fall back behind him, left the Greis and his SUV in "no man's land" on the rural road.
"Three seconds before impact, the pedal was all the way down," Graus said. "Why?"
Graus says his client used marijuana for pain management and was not impaired at the time of the accident.
Both the defense and the prosecution say evidence and their witnesses will support their differing versions of the crash.