911 recording catches a teen's last moments
911 recording catches a teen's last moments BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
Benjamin Klinger bowed his head and cried Thursday while listening to a 911 recording of a Dec. 4 car crash that killed his girlfriend.
A distraught passerby can be heard on the line summoning medical help on the shoulder of Route 283 in Rapho Township.
"Come on, get somebody here!" he snaps at the dispatcher while describing two injured people, including one female who was "upside down."
In the background a female can be heard screaming and moaning. Prosecutors believe those were the among the final sounds 17-year-old Samantha Heller ever made.
Prosecutors alleged at Klinger's preliminary hearing that Klinger crashed his car intentionally, then smothered Heller after realizing she was still alive.
Heller's aunt also testified at the hearing, and said Klinger, 19, was abusive to her niece and threatened to kill her.
Following a two-hour hearing, District Judge John Winters ordered that Klinger be tried in Lancaster County Court on counts of homicide, vehicular homicide and related offenses.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Conrad argued that the case is involuntary manslaughter at most.
"There is nothing to indicate a homicide occurred here," Conrad told the judge.
However, Klinger's prior assault of Heller, a McCaskey High School junior, was introduced as evidence in an attempt to show he was angry and prone to violence.
"I think it's clear this shows motive and intent," Winters said of that assault charge.
Leann Armold, Heller's aunt, also testified of Klinger's violent nature.
Armold said Klinger often called Heller a "slut" and "whore." On one occasion, Armold said, Klinger threatened to kill Heller in a car crash.
Armold said she was talking to Heller on the phone in January while her niece and Klinger were driving in a car.
"If she didn't get off the phone with her aunt, he would run the car off the road and (Heller) would never speak with relatives ever again," Armold testified, recalling what she heard.
Klinger, a muscular man of medium height, showed no reaction, only jotting notes during the testimony.
He broke down when Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman played the 10-minute recording of the 911 call.
A crash reconstruction expert testified that Klinger's car was traveling about 115 mph when he hit the guardrail. Sgt. Jeff Jones found no evidence of braking at the scene.
"The cause of this crash is the intentional actions of Ben Klinger," Jones testified.
Jones said Klinger was wearing a seat belt and "absolutely wasn't ejected" from the car due to impact with the guardrail.
"He removed his seat belt to remove himself from the vehicle," Jones testified.
Nicole Woods testified that she was the first police officer to arrive at the scene of the early morning crash.
She said she saw a female facedown on the ground with her legs still inside the car. Klinger was sitting on top of her, Woods testified.
Another police officer, Chris Keller, testified that he found evidence inside Klinger's car that Klinger was dealing drugs. Keller said he found a bag of about 20 prescription pills, a BB gun that Keller said looked like a real firearm, a digital scale and five $100 bills.
Conrad suggested to multiple witnesses that Klinger was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Keller said the results of toxicology tests are pending.
n Played at hearing for man charged with smothering teen when crash did not kill her. Aunt tells of abuse. Benjamin Klinger ordered to trial.