Attorney Asks for Lesser Charges in Vehicular Manslaughter Case

May 24, 2012 Updated May 24, 2012 at 7:31 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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May 24, 2012 Updated May 24, 2012 at 7:31 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW-TV) Even though the jury is not scheduled to get the case of Dr. James Corasanti until Tuesday, attorneys for both the prosecution and defense were back in court for what's called a 'charge conference.'

Outside the presence of the jury, Defense Attorney Joel Daniels asked the judge to consider "charging down" two of the counts against the Getzville doctor: Vehicular Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting Resulting in Death.

Prosecutor Kelley Omel told the court she "vehemently opposed" the requested changes by the defense.

In regards to leaving the scene of a fatal accident without reporting, Joel Daniels argued the more appropriate charge would be "leaving the scene of a property damage accident" because Dr. Corasanti did not know he hit a person.

"But he did know he hit something," said Daniels during opening statements in April.

After learning that an ambulance was at the scene of the accident, Defense Attorney Daniels says his client realized he struck a person and contacted his attorney Tom Burton for advise.

Judge DiTullio denied the request but said she would advise the jury about a defendant's constitutional right to have an attorney.

After hearing both sides, Judge DiTullio ruled that jurors will have to first decide if Dr. Corasanti was legally intoxicated, before coming to a unanimous verdict on vehicular manslaughter.

Judge DiTullio said she will also give instructions about lesser charges of DWI and Driving While Ability Impaired.

In regards to the count of second degree manslaughter, it will be charged according to the NY Criminal Jury Instructions without any charge-downs.

Judge DiTullio said she will also read an explanation about circumstantial evidence.

Regarding a defense request to have an explanation given to the jury about Dr. Corasanti's wife, Laureen, being absent from proceedings, Judge DiTullio said it was denied.

The defense was worried that jurors may have wondered where she was, and perhaps draw a negative inference.

Even though she was never called to testify, prosecutors had subpoenaed Laureen Corasanti as a potential witness, meaning she was not allowed to sit in court and observe the proceedings.

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