Deanna Kurth and Michelle Klein did not expect more than 25 people to show up to a party at their home on Butts Road the night of Oct. 22, 2004.
And they did not expect or invite Rory Kuenzi to come to their party.
The following morning, some time after 3:30 a.m., Kuenzi allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian. Kevin McCoy, and left the scene of the crash after moving the body into a ditch.
“It was just going to be a small gathering, but it ended up being a bigger party,” Kurth recalled on the stand Monday afternoon.
Most of those attending the party were under the legal drinking age. Prior to Kuenzi’s arrival, which Kurth estimated to have happened at around 1:30 a.m., she and her friends began playing card games that involved the loser drinking.
Kurth as herself underage at the time of the party. Her 20th birthday was just four days later.
Kurth testified that during the party she received a call from Rory Kuenzi some time around midnight. She had dated Kuenzi a few months, but considered their relationship over.
“I never really invited him, he invited himself,” Kurth said.
Kurth testified that Kuenzi appeared intoxicated. She said she saw him carrying a bottle of liquor, slurring his words, acting confrontational and “stumbling a little bit.”
Kurth said she attempted to avoid Kuenzi, especially after they began arguing.
“He called me over and said something along the lines of ‘stop acting like a whore,'” Kurth said. “He was in my freezer and in my fridge, taking food out.”
On cross-examination, Nielsen asked Kurth why she did not mention Kuenzi holding a bottle of liquor in her written statement that she gave police two days after the crash or that Kuenzi had been staggering or slurring his words.
Kurth described her police interviews as “horrible.”
“They made me think I was withholding information and that it was all my fault,” Kurth said. “I was fined for holding an underage drinking party. I was sued and I had to file for bankruptcy.”
Kurth said she did not tell investigators about Kuenzi’s intoxication because they didn’t ask and she felt like she was going to get into trouble if she did.
Daniel Hernandez, who was at the party, testified to overhearing an argument between Kuenzi and Kurth and believed McCoy was involved. When asked why he didn’t report the argument when first questioned by police, Hernandez said he didn’t think it was improtant at the time.
Megan Freeman, who was a 16-year-old Iola high school student at the party, testified to seeing Kuenzi and McCoy arguing at the party.
When Nielsen cross-examined her about why she did not report the argument to police two days after the party, she said she did not want to get into trouble and she did not see the argument as being significant when first interviewed because she did not know that Kuenzi was being investigated in Kevin McCoy’s death.
“I was scared,” Freeman said. “It wasn’t like they got into a fight and started throwing punches.”
Several of those attending the party testified that Kuenzi appeared intoxicated. Others said they saw him with a bottle of liquor, while others said they only saw Kuenzi drinking beer.