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BUFFALO, NY - On Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from a neighbor of Dr. Corasanti.
Corasanti's Behavior After The Accident
David McLean, a neighbor and friend of Corasanti, testified that he noticed Corasanti running from his home before midnight on the night in question and eventually joined the search for Corasanti along with another neighbor friend, James Piparo, who testified Monday.
McLean said he found the two talking at the intersection of Collins and North Woodshire. He says Corasanti was "distraught."
McLean testified that Corasanti said, 'I had some drinks at an outing. I ruined my life and my career. I gotta deep six it."
McLean said he took the remark to mean that Corasanti was suicidal.
McLean described, in detail, the conversation he, Piparo and Corasanti had that night:
"He said he hit something. I said, 'Jim, maybe it was a deer or something. Maybe it's not that bad.' He said he knew it was a person because his wife went back to check and it was an ambulance. I said, 'Jim think of your family. You gotta do the right thing and turn yourself in.' He said 'I ruined my life and my career. I was drinking. I'm not gonna go to jail.'
According to McClean, Piparo, who was on the phone with a cop friend then turned to say; "Jim, it was a girl you hit," to which Corasanti then said again, "I ruined my life and career."
McLean says he walked with Pipero, Corasanti, and Corasanti's brother-in-law to a location where Corasanti had arranged with his lawyer to turn himself over to police.
The second witness of the morning was the Amherst police officer who followed the fluid trail from the accident scene to Corasanti's home. This was Officer Julian Chinana, who interestingly, lives only a few doors down from Corasanti.
The most helpful part of Chiana's testimony to the prosecution was perhaps his assertion that the fluid trail lead from the accident scene to Corasanti's house.
However, some of what Chinina said on the stand might be helpful to the defense, to wit; that over the course of the trail, there was no indication that the vehicle had ever weaved or strayed from its proper lane in the near mile course it took from between the accident scene and Corasanti's home...which might hardly be the case if Corasanti was as intoxicated as prosecutors allege.
Proving Corasanti was drunk at the time when his car struck Rice is a key component for prosecutors, if they are to gain a conviction on the most serious counts facing the doctor, who was indicted on charges of vehicular manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, leaving a deadly accident scene and tampering with physical evidence.
McLean, a 28 year veteran law enforcer with the Department of Homeland Security, testified that during the time when he was with Corasanti, and while Corasanti walked with him for nearly a mile to a gas station where his surrender was to take place, that Corasanti had "no trouble" walking and "did not at all appear to be drunk."
During re-direct testimony, the prosecutor asked McLean, "During all the time you were with the defendant, and during the many times he had repeated how he ruined his life and his career, did he ever say anything expressing concern over the girl he hit?" "No he did not," McLean replied.
This came over the objection of the defense, as it could help prosecutors portray Corasanti to the jury as a selfish person concerned for no one but himself.
Jurors on Thursday also heard from Amherst Police Lt. Ted DiNoto, who was the first person to notify Rice's family of the accident, as well as being the first police officer to encounter Dr. Corisanti at the arranged surrender point, a Noco station at Millersport Hgwy. and Dodge Road.
Breaking The Bad News
DiNoto testified that Rice had no identification on her person, but that some distance from where her body lay still on a front lawn on Heim road police found a knapsack with a phone inside.
DiNoto said he retrieved the phone, turned it on and noticed the greeting came up as "Alix's phone".
DiNoto further testified that he began scrolling through numbers until he came upon one entry which said "DAD-ICE".
"I took that to mean: Dad, In Case of Emergency."
DiNoto said when he used his own phone to dial the number and that a gentleman answered.
"I identified myself and asked if he had a daughter named Alix. He said he did and I told him that there had been an accident and that we would like to send a car to pick him up to take him to the hospital."
DiNoto continued to testify that Rice's father, who identified himself as being a former police officer, seemed to understand how grave the situation was.
"He said, 'Lieutenant, I know what it is that you are really trying to tell me. I'll take myself to the hospital'."
Which One Of You Is Jim?
DiNoto says he then received instructions to report to the Noco station at Millersport and Dodge to meet the suspect driver in the hit and run, but while on the way received a call from Tom Burton, one of Corasanti's defense attorneys, who advised him that Corasanti was his client and that "I was not to ask Dr. Corasanti any questions."
DiNoto said he arrived at the gas station just as he finished up his call with Burton, and noticed a group of four men standing in a circle.
Upon confirming which one was Corasanti, DiNoto described the doctor as appearing drunk and reeking of alcohol.
"I introduced myself and told him we were going to go to the police station after his lawyer arrived. As I placed him in my car he looked up at me and asked, "How's the girl? Is she dead?' I told him that she was, and he turned his head and seemed to just sigh."
Invoking His Rights
DiNoto said another of Corasanti's lawyers, Cheryl Meyers-Buth, arrived at the gas station shortly before 1 am on July 9th, which was approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes after the accident.
DiNoto says he told Meyers-Buth that Corasanti would be riding with him to the police station and that she was welcome to follow.
According to DiNoto, once he arrived at the station with Corasanti, another group of lawmen were already consulting with the Erie County District Attorney's office regarding what charges should be filed and that Corasanti was eventually placed under arrest and was at that point charged with DWI and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. At 1:44 am, DiNoto said he asked Corasanti to submit to a breathalyzer test.
"He turned to his attorney (Meyers-Buth) who said, 'no'. He then turned to me and repeated, 'no'."
A Long Night Ahead
DiNoto testified that Corasanti was then booked on charges, while police in another part of the station sought to find a judge who would issue a court ordered draw of Corasanti's blood.
Eventually, NY State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang was contacted and, according to DiNoto, told police to bring the warrant and Corasanti to her home. DiNoto testified that police brought Corasanti with them to Wolfgang's residence where she signed the warrant at 3:09 am.
However, while about to set out to a hospital to get the blood sample taken, DiNoto said he was called by another Lieutenant who asked him to bring Corasanti back to his residence, where police needed him to sign a consent form to search his vehicle parked in Corasanti's garage.
DiNoto testified that Corasanti was then taken to his residence, removed from the police car, and un-hancuffed to allow him to place his signature on the consent form.
He then says Corasanti was taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban hospital, where blood was taken from him at 4:21am.
Despite the fact that the blood was taken some five hours after the fatal mishap, prosecutors, in their opening statement, indicated that the evidence from the blood test will show that Corasanti's blood alchohol content (BAC) was still .10, which is above the legal level of intoxication.
They were beginning to introduce that evidence into the record before the conclusion of testimony on Tuesday.
The trial will resume before Erie County Court Judge Shiela A. DiTullio on Thursday.