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[whitespace] Trial on cyclist's death begins

Cupertino-The trial of the San Jose man who the district attorney claims was the driver of a truck that killed a Cupertino bicyclist two years ago began on Monday.

Jon Nisby, 39, faces a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter for the death of Jeffrey Steinwedel. If convicted, he could spend up to a year in jail and be fined up to $5,000.

Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny anticipates the trial will run four to five days. Jury selection was completed Feb. 16.

The district attorney's office will present a circumstantial case based on testimony from the eyewitnesses, McInerny said.

"There's no one that can actually testify to the truck hitting the bicycle," McInerny said. "There is a witness who essentially saw portions of the accident from the rear."

Steinwedel, 46, was killed on Dec. 2, 1996 when he was run over by a vehicle on Stevens Canyon Road, just outside the Stevens Creek Quarry.

Steinwedel, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was struck by the second trailer of a double-trailer gravel truck.

Nisby told deputies at the time that he did not remember having problems passing the cyclist, but sheriff's investigators found scratches on the truck's fender that they said were most likely made by contact with a bicycle.

According to an investigation conducted by sheriff's deputies in 1997, the front bumper of the second trailer on the truck hit Steinwedel's handlebars as he was riding on the far right-hand side of the bicycle lane. They said they believe Steinwedel then flipped and turned, striking the sidewall of the outer tire and was then thrown to the side of the road.

In April 1997, the district attorney's office said it would not prosecute the case because the witnesses' differing descriptions of the accident weakened the case.

However, investigators continued looking into the incident and conducted additional interviews with witnesses. By December 1997, enough information was gathered to proceed with the case, McInerny said.
Michelle Ku

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Web extra to the February 25-March 3, 1999 issue of Metro.

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