Swan Boat Club crash: Marshella Chidester's attorney claims her BAC was 'tainted'

According to test results read in court, Marshella Chidester had a blood alcohol level of .18 –which is twice the legal limit– when she crashed into the Swan Boat Club on April 20, resulting in the death of two children.

On Thursday, a judge ordered Chidester to stand trial. However, her attorney, Bill Colovos, told FOX 2 he plans to get the blood draw dismissed, claiming it is a false positive. 

"Somebody that's at a .18, they've got some slurring going on. You can detect it right away," Colovos said. "The BAC, I think, is tainted, and if you take the BAC away, there is just nothing there."

Cameras captured the 66-year-old woman slamming through the building, ending up about 25 feet inside – where a children's birthday party was being held. The crash killed 8-year-old Alanah Phillips and 5-year-old Zayn Phillips and left more than a dozen other people hurt.

Chidester was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury. She was bound over on all charges on Thursday.

The defense argues that the crash happened because Chidester had a seizure, like she had suffered in the past. However, she was cleared by her doctor to drive at the time of the crash.

Colovos also claims that his client only had a glass of wine while eating lunch at a local bar four hours prior to the crash, which she could be heard telling police about in body-camera footage immediately after the crash – and that she "wouldn’t want to drive" in her current state.

Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Schmidt testified that Chidester failed several field sobriety tests. She was not able to count backward from 100, and she couldn't focus on his finger, but she was able to recite the alphabet.

Chidester couldn't maintain her balance and had watery, bloodshot eyes, Schmidt said. He also testified he could smell intoxicants on her.

"I noticed a small child lying on the ground," the deputy said. "The child did not appear to be breathing or moving."

Victims and witnesses of the crash also took the stand on Thursday.

"It was just chaos everywhere," said Lya Sith, a witness. "You could hear was babies crying, everyone screaming, there's plenty of people injured."

Dodds, the mother of Alanah and Zayn's, also testified, recalling the last thing she remembers before the crash.

"I was walking back to the table my children were sitting at, as they were eating, and that was the last thing," Dodds said. "Felt like I was blacked out I don’t remember nothing."

Dodds is suing Chidester and Verna's Tavern – the bar that allegedly served Chidester wine before the crash.

With all the attention, the defense will file a motion to have the case heard somewhere else. 

Chidester is currently out on a $1.5 million dollar bond. As for a plea deal, it’s not on the table right now, and the defense does not see one being offered. 


Photos of Swan Boat Club crash aftermath released; more victims join lawsuit

An attorney representing nine victims shared several photos showing the destruction inside the Swan Boat Club, left behind by Marshella Chidester – the woman who drove about 25 feet into the building and killed two kids.