Jessica Russell remembered the light turning red as she drove to work in downtown Davenport just before 6 p.m. on Jan. 30.
“I went to mess with my radio and I heard a big, I would say it was like a boom, behind me,” she said as she broke down in tears. “I went in circles and when I woke up, I just knew I was involved in an accident. It was pretty bad.”
In front of her, she could see fire in the road. To her left, she saw a red Chevy Monte Carlo that was driven by Cynthia Elaine Jones, 53, of Davenport.
To her left, Russell saw a blue Dodge Ram driven by Lauria Lee Kelly, the woman who prosecutors say caused the fatal crash that left Jones dead.
Russell was one of six witnesses to testify Wednesday in a bench trial for Kelly, 58, of Alvarado, Texas. She is charged with one count of homicide by vehicle-reckless driving.
Kelly earlier this month waived her right to a jury trial and opted instead to have the case decided by Scott County Chief District Judge Marlita Greve. Her attorney, Harlan Giese Jr., previously filed a notice that she would seek a defense of insanity or diminished responsibility.
She remains in the Scott County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.
Police say Kelly was driving east on 2nd Street at a high rate of speed when she struck the rear of Jones’s Monte Carlo that was stopped at a red light at 2nd and Brady.
The Monte Carlo then was pushed into the rear of Russell’s green 1999 Buick Regal, which was in front of it. The force of the crash was so great that all three vehicles came to a rest on the other side of the intersection, more than 100 feet away, according to police.
Cpl. Kris Mayer, a crash scene investigator for the Davenport Police Department, said that after hitting the Monte Carlo, the Dodge Ram powered through the car and made full contact with the back of the Buick Regal.
He said that while he could not determine exactly how fast Kelly was driving, he estimated that she was driving at “interstate speeds.”
The speed limit downtown is 25 mph, he added.
Mike Priester, a concrete driver, was driving east on 2nd Street between 5:30 and 6 p.m. that night, headed toward the post office, when he heard what sounded like a tornado siren “for a really long time.”
He cracked his window and realized that it was a car horn that sounded like it was stuck. Priester looked into his rearview mirror and noticed that the car horn sound was coming from a Dodge Ram truck.
He said he pulled into the post office parking lot and the truck pulled in right behind him. Russell said he jumped out of his truck, walked toward the Dodge Ram, to find what was going on.
When he noticed that the truck had Texas license plates and saw a woman inside who he had never seen before, he figured there was not going to be a confrontation.
“I noticed there was a pile of clothes on the passenger side, Texas license plates, kind of threw me off,” Priester said. “Then the lady looked at me and she goes ‘King Jesus, I salute you.’”
Priester said he went into the post office and when he walked out a short time later, he saw the Dodge Ram tear out of the parking lot and head east on 2nd Street. He said he also headed east and saw “all the carnage from the vehicle.”
Another witness, Chelsie Dusenberry, testified that she had gotten off work and was in the crosswalk by the Radisson Quad-City Plaza when she heard a loud revving sound coming down the road.
She said she saw a red car “pop” out of line and was spinning around like a “pin ball.” A truck drove through the intersection and had pushed a second car, the green Buick Regal, over by QC Works, she said.
Dusenberry said she walked past the truck when it came to a stop and heard an EMT ask Kelly, the driver, why she was driving so fast.
“She never really answered,” she said. “It was just a glazed look. Unaffected. No emotion.”
Another witness testified that Kelly ran three red lights and had almost hit his car before the crash.
Russell, who was seven months pregnant at the time, said after the crash she started to scream for help to get out of her car.
“That’s when several bystanders actually tried to help me out, but my car doors wouldn’t open,” she testified. “So, they tried to keep me calm as long as they could until the paramedics got there. That’s when, if I’m correct, they might have used the Jaws of Life to get my doors open.”
She was taken to a local hospital, where she was monitored because she was having contractions. Russell said she suffered whiplash and was “very worked up emotionally” but was OK. Her unborn son also was OK.
Kelly was taken to the hospital before being taken to the Scott County Jail.
Davenport Police Sgt. Janet Martin testified Wednesday that she had gone to the hospital to find out if Kelly had any family members she could call to let them know about the crash.
She talked to Kelly’s sister, who said she had no idea Kelly was in Davenport and that she thought her sister was supposed to help her take care of their mother, who had recently had surgery.
Martin said she overheard Kelly tell hospital staff that “God had sent her here.”
Firefighters who responded to the crash also said that Kelly was acting “a little strange” and that she talked about “President Trump and the military,” Martin said.
Assistant Scott County Attorney Kimberly Shepherd rested her case after calling the six witnesses and entering several stipulated reports into evidence.
Giese rested his case without calling any witnesses. The burden of proof is on prosecutors, so the defense is not obligated to call any witnesses. That cannot be held against them.
Greve gave Shepherd until Friday to submit a final trial brief and until Nov. 3 for Giese to file a response. She will announce her verdict sometime after Nov. 3, she said.
As Kelly was led out of the courtroom, she apologized to Jones’ family and said “God bless you.”