Trial of Amherst Doctor Begins

April 26, 2012 Updated Apr 26, 2012 at 6:34 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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April 26, 2012 Updated Apr 26, 2012 at 6:34 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) – Opening arguments are expected Thursday where attorneys for Dr. James Corasanti will lay out their defense in his trial involving a fatal hit and run.

It is also a day where prosecutors will lay out their strategy. They claim to have overwhelming evidence that Corasanti was not only driving drunk when he hit and killed Alexandria Rice, 18, on Heim Road in Amherst last summer, but they said he was also was texting. They also claim that the doctor fled the scene and tried to cover up the crime.

Corasanti pled not guilty to his charges, including Vehicular Manslaughter, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident, resulting in death. His lawyer said the issue is not whether Corasanti hit the girl, but whether he knew he hit Rice that night.

Legal Analyst Barry Covert talked about the case with Eyewitness News.

“This is a building block case for the prosecution as opposed to a case where you have a confession. This is a case where you have to use building blocks to put together a wall of evidence strong enough to support the outcome you want from the jury. The defense is much more tenuous in their statements, while they will be strong in respect to what they think is positive to them. The defense will be very strong as to what the prosecution cannot prove in their direct case,” Covert said.

Covert predicts the prosecutors will have what he calls a “building block” case, putting facts together to build evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Corasanti is guilty. He said the prosecutors would outline the accident reconstruction; show text messages that Corasanti was allegedly sending at the time of the accident and present many witness statements about the doctor’s sobriety.

Covert said the defense’s statement would be much shorter. It will focus on what the prosecution cannot prove. The argument will also talk about Corasanti’s character.

Covert said opening statements would be emotional.

“You can expect during opening statements that the prosecution and defense will show emotion. The prosecutor will talk about the girl and what she went through and what the deprivation of her life, a bright future. The defense will also get emotional in relation in terms of Dr. Corasanti's strengths and his character, that he would never do what the prosecutors are accusing him of,” Covert said.

Covert expects the prosecution’s opening statements to last about two hours while the defense will go for only about 45 minutes. The trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Erie County Courthouse. The entire trial is predicted to last about a month.