A state Crime Lab toxicologist who testifies frequently in court about blood alcohol content was charged with driving under the influence after a breath test put his alcohol level at twice the legal driving limit.
The charge last month against Lynn Kurtz is a misdemeanor because, if he’s convicted, it would be a first offense. He’s also charged with rolling through a stop sign, another misdemeanor.
Kurtz will continue to do casework at the Crime Lab while his case proceeds through court, Judy Beck, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office, said Tuesday.
The Crime Lab also is notifying any attorneys who may have subpoenaed Kurtz as an expert witness, she said. Also, the Crime Lab notified its accreditation agency of Kurtz’s arrest.
A Missoula County sheriff’s deputy stopped Kurtz’s black 1994 Chevy just before 11 p.m. on June 25 on Orange Street near the Interstate 90 overpass, according to the report in the case.
When the deputy asked if he’d anything to drink, Kurtz responded, “A couple, and probably too much,” the report said. A plastic beer cup with a Miller Lite logo was on the seat, the report said.
Kurtz performed poorly on field sobriety tests, and a breath test showed his alcohol level at 0.160, according to the report. A second test done at the Missoula County Detention Facility showed it at 0.153.
Kurtz told the deputy he’d been a reserve deputy sheriff and had a lot of experience with DUI investigations, according to the report.
Although he is no longer a reserve deputy, “he served in the department for many years and was well-respected,” Sheriff’s Detective Jason Johnson said Tuesday.
Kurtz often is called to testify at trials where the level of a person’s intoxication is at issue. For instance, in last year’s trial of Eugene “Joey” Gonzalez, accused with Raymond Big Beaver of beating a transient to death, Kurtz testified that the amount of alcohol in the victim’s system would have proved fatal to 50 percent of the population.
Gonzalez was acquitted in the case, and Big Beaver was found guilty only of misdemeanor assault.
On Tuesday, Kurtz said he couldn’t comment on the incident.
His next court appearance is set for Aug. 15.
Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, firstname.lastname@example.org or @CopsAndCourts on Twitter.