Fatal Towing Trial In Hands Of Jury

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WILKES-BARRE -- The fate of a tow truck driver on trial in Luzerne County for the death of a woman remains in the hands of a jury.

The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon after hearing from the accused himself.

Prosecutors accused Robert Wickham of being drunk the day he went to tow the victim’s car, something he denied on the stand.

Robert Wickham is on trial at the Luzerne County Courthouse, facing homicide by vehicle and DUI charges in the death of Denise Polinchak.

Prosecutors say Wickham was drunk in March, 2011 when he was called out to tow Polinchak’s car, which was parked at the Social Security building in Plains Township where she worked.

Investigators say Wickham was backing up Polinchak’s car with the driver’s side door open.

The door hit Polinchak and she flew several feet in the air, smacking her head on the pavement when she fell. She died at the hospital.

Before the jury began deliberating, Wickham took the stand in his own defense.

He admitted he drank three 24 ounce beers on that day because he wasn’t planning on working.

However, when he got called to tow Polinchak’s car, he went because he felt “obligated to help the public” and maintained he was not drunk.

He told the jury when he was reversing Polinchak’s car “the motor just raced. It took off like a rocket backward. When the car took off, the door flew open. I was hanging out of the door.”

Another tow truck driver testified that the brakes on Polinchak’s car were not working.

Wickham said if he had known the brakes were not working he would have moved the car differently.

Deliberations are expected to resume in this case Friday at 9 a.m. at the Luzerne County Courthouse.