WILKES-BARRE — One of the first police officers who arrived at the bus lot where Melissa Scholl allegedly tried to kill herself and her two children disputed his earlier testimony about what he heard the woman say.
Wilkes-Barre Township Officer Joseph Wozniak was the first prosecution witness called Wednesday during the second day of testimony in Scholl’s retrial in Luzerne County Court. Wozniak, a 12-year member of the department, said he and another officer responded within a minute to the call at the Williams Bus Line lot on Blackman Street in December 2015.
The officer testified he found Scholl, 34, seated behind the wheel of her car and her two children buckled in seat belts in the back. He said he saw a garden hose connected to the tailpipe, but the other end of the hose had been taken from the front window by a bus driver who saw the car parked between buses and vans in the darkened lot.
Prosecutor Angela Sperrazza asked if Scholl said anything to Wozniak as he stood outside the car that was not running.
“Can’t do it anymore. Don’t want to do it anymore,” Wozniak said Scholl told him.
But defense attorney Larry Kansky pointed out the officer gave a different statement during Scholl’s first trial in June that ended in a mistrial.
According to the transcript of Wozniak’s earlier testimony, he said Scholl stated, “Can’t do this alone. Don’t want to live anymore.”
When Kansky asked Wozniak if the transcript was wrong, the officer replied, “Yes.” Wozniak maintained his latest testimony was the correct version.
Sperrazza did not press Wozniak further for an explanation.
The distinction in statements could support the defense’s position that Scholl was crying out for help. She had put up her twins for adoption and struggled to raise her children without any assistance from her husband.
The defense argued that on the night she drove herself and her son and daughter to the bus lot across the street from their house, she had no intention of killing anyone and instead acted out in an attempt to to get help from her mother.
The prosecution started the day with a nearly 40-minute video of an interview of Scholl’s 9-year-old son, Julian, done a week after she allegedly tried to asphyxiate herself, him and his younger sister, Vera, who was 5 at the time.
The boy, then 7, played with a stuffed animal as he talked about his “grouchy” father who was not helping out his mother. He said that night in the car his mother told him, “This might be the last time I ever kiss you and hug you.”
The jury trial resumes today before Judge David Lupas.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.