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Hit and run trial underway; opening statements reveal strategies

The long-delayed trial of Thomas Edward Lenhart II got underway with jury selection and action on various defense motions Monday. Opening statements in the trial began at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Update inside: opening statements have been completed. District attorney Richard Milam reported Friday that he expects the trial will run most of the week. Lenhart is charged with first degree vehicular homicide and hit and run in connection with the death of 33-year-old Norman Anderson on March 2, 2012. Anderson’s body was found by passersby just after dawn between Hwy. 36 West at the adjacent railroad tracks. He had been hit by a vehicle and left to die. Anderson, who suffered from depression, often walked the roads at night. Vehicle parts left at the scene and surveillance video from T.J. Outfitters across the highway tied Lenhart to the crime, prosecutors say. The victim was a corrections officer and a member of Midway Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife Sherri and four children. He is the brother-in-law of Lamar County sheriff Brad White. UPDATE 1: By noon Tuesday, the opening statements had been completed and at evidence was an interview with Lenhart by an LCSO investigator and a representative of the GSP SCRT team that reconstructs fatal accidents. The prosecution contends Lenhart was most culpable after the impact because he left the scene, failed to render aid and made an attempt to hide the truck he was driving when he struck Anderson. The defense did not contest that Lenhart hit Anderson but contends he thought he hit a deer and did not stop for that reason. They also claim the truck was not hidden but was being repaired. The testimony is being heard by 12 jurors and one alternate. That panel is made up of eight men and five women.

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