ROCKWALL, Texas—Emergency dispatchers and police officers testified Tuesday morning in the first day of trial for a man accused of the fatal hit-and-run of a Texarkana, Texas, police officer last year.

Texarkana, Texas, police Sgt. Chris Phelps’ voice cracked as he described the moment he laid eyes on an unconscious and bleeding William Jason Sprague at Grady T. Wallace park shortly after midnight June 14.

“There was blood coming from his ears and his hands were curled,” Phelps told the jury of five men and seven women seated to decide if Justin Miles Sanders is guilty of murder in Sprague’s death.

Sprague was the first officer to respond to a disturbance call concerning an illegal gathering of about 100 in the closed park. He was struck by a car and died the following day of head and crush injuries.

The jury heard a 911 recording Monday from a woman who reported seeing groups of people in the park fighting and smoking.

During opening statements Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the jury Sanders was at the park selling marijuana and struck Sprague with an SUV he was driving as he fled, fearful of being caught with drugs.

First Assistant Public Defender Will Williams described Sprague’s death as a “tragic accident” for which Sanders can’t be held accountable.

Read Wednesday’s print and online editions for detailed coverage of the first day of Sanders’ murder trial.

Published: 03/25/2014