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Separate trials sought in fatal Murrysville DUI

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 11:18 p.m.

Just two weeks after Andrew Lysell and his two buddies graduated from Franklin Regional High School two years ago, he was killed on Saltsburg Road in Murrysville.

Lysell's friends are charged with homicide by vehicle and driving under the influence in connection with his death on June 23, 2012.

In court on Thursday, the lawyer for Jacob Vrudney, 20, of Murrysville said his client should not go to trial alongside co-defendant Michael Kralovic, 20, also of Murrysville, because Kralovic is the one responsible for Lysell's death.

“We believe the statements of the co-defendant are incriminating against my client. They are self-serving for Mr. Kralovic,” said defense attorney Anthony DeLuca.

Police said Lysell, 18, of Export was a passenger in a car driven by Kralovic as it rounded a curve at a high rate of speed and flipped onto its roof.

As Lysell crawled out of the car, he was hit by a speeding pickup truck driven by Vrudney, according to court documents.

Police contend both vehicles were speeding, traveling about 80 mph, and investigators said both drivers were drunk. Vrudney had a blood alcohol content of 0.154 percent, and Kralovic's blood alcohol level was 0.135 percent, according to court records. Both men were about seven times the limit at which a motorist under 21 is considered to be drunk in Pennsylvania.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Pacek said that even though Vrudney was the driver who killed Lysell with his truck, both men were responsible for his death.

“But not for (Kralovic's) reckless driving in his intoxicated state, the accident would not have happened,” Pacek said.

During a pretrial hearing Thursday before Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr., Murrysville paramedic James Gerano testified Kralovic, as he was being treated at the crash site, claimed all three men had been drinking and that there was no time to react when Vrudney's pickup truck rounded the curve.

“They were racing,” Gerano testified.

Kralovic told investigators that prior to the crash, he and Lysell attended a demolition derby in New Alexandria, where they stole a half case of beer before leaving around 1:30 a.m. to attend a graduation party at a residence.

They met up with Vrudney at the party, where they continued to consume alcohol, police said.

In court documents filed this week, Kralovic's attorneys contended there is not enough evidence to support the homicide charges against him.

McCormick said he would rule on the pretrial issues at a later date.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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