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Defense: Deaths of Two Women in DSM Street Brawl Were Accidental

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DES MOINES (AP) - The attorney for a Chicago man being tried on first-degree murder charges contends the deaths of two women were an accident.

Officials say Brenda Coplen, 45, and Sharosa Odie, 25, both of Des Moines, were struck on July 4, by an SUV driven by Travaris Chancellor during a street brawl.

Defense lawyer Amy Kepes said during an opening statement Thursday that Chancellor struck the women as he fled the scene of the brawl.

Assistant Polk County Attorney Jaki Livingston says the women's deaths weren't an accident, noting Chancellor picked the route of most resistance to leave the scene.

During testimony Thursday, police officer Ryan Mann said he feared for his safety after the crowd turned on him because they thought the department's response was slow.