Testimony: Bakdash must have had control of car

Thursday was the fourth day of Timothy Bakdash’s murder trial.

Timothy Bakdash

Timothy Bakdash

Evelina Smirnitskaya

 Timothy Bakdash had to be in control of his car when he drove onto and down a sidewalk along narrow Fifth Street Southeast, according to witness testimony during his murder trial Thursday.

Minneapolis police Sgt. Bradley Simonson said if Bakdash lost control of his car within the 175-foot stretch of sidewalk on which he struck four pedestrians early on April 15, there would be more physical evidence.

University of Minnesota student Ben Van Handel, 23, was one of the pedestrians hit. He died shortly after the incident.

Bakdash faces one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for what the prosecution argues was an intentional act.

 Bakdash’s defense attorney Joe Tamburino insists Bakdash was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, making the hit-and-run an accident.

Police reconstructed the scene by driving along the narrow path that’s surrounded by trees and an embankment on either side. Driving at 30 mph, Simonson said it took a little effort to control his vehicle.

Police did not accelerate to Bakdash’s approximate speed of 60 mph because, he said, “it would be too unsafe to do.”

Simonson said he did not find markings on trees or any other evidence that Bakdash struck anything else down the sidewalk.

Simonson previously testified there wasn’t enough evidence to show Bakdash intended to kill the pedestrians. Thursday, Simonson testified to the contrary that Bakdash must have had control of the car.