Perry Oakley Jr.
Perry Oakley Jr.

The man behind the wheel of a car that fatally injured a 6-year-old boy and his uncle told police a bizarre story to explain why he disappeared from the Gardena crash scene for 40 minutes, according to court testimony Wednesday.

Recordings of Perry Lee Oakley's statement to police were played in Torrance Superior Court, where he faces charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, and hit-and-run.

Oakley is on trial in the deaths of 6-year-old Sylvester Payne Jr. and Samuel Dickens, 62. Both were sitting in the back seat of a Toyota Camry that Oakley slammed into after he allegedly ran a stop sign at Normandie Avenue and 141st Street in Gardena about 11:30 p.m. April 9, 2011.

After the collision, witnesses reported seeing Oakley and his passenger standing nearby on a curb, cursing. By the time police arrived, the men had disappeared from the area, witnesses testified.

Forty minutes later, Oakley limped over to an officer directing traffic a block south of the crash scene, at Normandie and Rosecrans avenues.

He told the officer he had been abducted and robbed at gunpoint by a passing motorist immediately after the crash.

"They got me in the car, said, like `Get in the car,"' Oakley can be heard saying in an audio recording made by Gardena police Officer Ryan Yee. "Me and my boy. We got in the car."

Yee testified Tuesday that Oakley told him the men then drove a few blocks away, robbed Oakley of his jewelry and cellphone, and let him go.

Yee said Oakley appeared confused, smelled of alcohol, was limping and had blood on his face and hand. The airbags had deployed in the Acura he had been driving, and the car had substantial front-end damage.

Paramedics called to check Oakley after he walked up to Yee decided he did not need to go to the hospital, officials said.

Officers questioned Oakley for nearly an hour, as he leaned against a lamppost at the corner. Video and audio recordings of the interview show Oakley wavering slightly during a field sobriety test and seeming occasionally confused by the officer's questions.

During Oakley's questioning, the Camry passengers were being cut from the car and taken to a nearby hospital. Dickens, who was found slumped in the back seat, was pronounced dead. Sylvester's heart stopped beating at the scene but he was resuscitated, witnesses testified Wednesday.

Sylvester was taken to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where doctors found that he had a faint pulse but was brain dead, testified Richard Mink, division chief of the hospital's pediatric critical care unit.

Mink said Sylvester suffered significant brain injuries, spine and liver lacerations, heart damage, and lung injury from inhaling his own vomit.

"He had no signs of brain functioning," Mink said. "He wasn't breathing on his own, there was no indication of brain life."

After a series of tests, medical treatments and observation, Sylvester was pronounced dead on April 12.

Oakley told officers he had two beers at a party he attended at the house of a friend's sister. He was on his way home when the crash occurred, he said.

"I had two beers, Heineken," he told officers, who recorded the interview. "Me and my boy Leon, we hit a car. We were driving. ..."

Gardena police Officer Christopher Sanderson testified Wednesday that Oakley's blood-alcohol level was 0.13, which is more than 50 percent higher than the legal limit for driving and much higher than it would have been if he had only had two beers.

During the field sobriety test, Oakley "was swaying back and forth, and side to side about two or three inches," Sanderson said. "He didn't touch his nose, only his top lip, and didn't keep his head back the whole time" during the finger-to-nose test.

In a recorded interview between Sanderson and Oakley, the suspect recounted his day. He woke up at about 10 a.m., had waffles and sausage for breakfast and then went to visit the mother of his child, he said. In the afternoon, he watched TV at home and ate chicken nuggets before going to the party about 7 p.m., he said.

Oakley's attorney, Michael Ooley, criticized officers for questioning him without getting medical attention for his injured head and leg. He has also indicated that the stop sign Oakley ran before hitting the Camry was obstructed by brush.

sandy.mazza@dailybreeze.com

Follow Sandy Mazza on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sandymazza