BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Despite testimony from prosecution witnesses that Dr. James Corasanti struck and killed Alexandria Rice in the bike lane of Heim Road, jurors had enough reasonable doubt to acquit.
"Alexandria was in the road," said Jury Foreman William Nixon, describing why they found the Amherst doctor not guilty of vehicular manslaughter.
"Maybe he was distracted by his thoughts or whatever. But he hit Alix and she was in the road. So we just couldn't convict on that."
Former Erie County District Attorney and News 4 Legal Analyst, Frank Clark, says believing the evidence of one witness over another is the jury's right.
"If that was their finding of fact, it was a legitimate finding. There was evidence on both sides of that issue," Clark said.
Nixon told News 4's Luke Moretti that it was the same for the second degree manslaughter charge. He said jurors believed Alix was in the road--not the bike lane.
"I just didn't think there was a manslaughter," Nixon said. "There was no intent."
But Clark points out that reckless manslaughter does not require intent.
"They may have found that there wasn't reckless conduct, and as a result of that, acquitted under that count," Clark said. "That's fine. I hope they didn't think that he had to intend to cause her death under that count because it is not an intent crime."
But it was not just Alix's location when she was hit that created reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury.
When asked if jurors lacked confidence in the test showing Corasanti's blood alcohol content at .10%--above the legal limit--five hours after the July 2011 crash in Amherst, Nixon replied, "That's correct. The defense had already brought in an expert to say that that test wasn't valid."
Clark said, "If it was based upon the testimony of the defense expert, that is a perfectly valid reason for finding that the blood alcohol test was not reliable.
Jurors did convict Corasanti on a misdemeanor DWI offense, however that charge did not require blood alcohol proof.
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