Dr. James Corasanti Trial

5:28 PM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Both sides in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti have rested.

The charge conference for the lawyers will be held Thursday. Due to the holiday weekend, closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday. Once those are finished, the jury will be charged to deliberate.

The defense requested again to have all charges against Dr. Corasanti dismissed, but the judge again denied the request.

The prosecution called one rebuttal witness, Dr. Robert Osiewicz, to the stand. He's a toxicologist in the Erie Co. Medical Examiner's Office. 

Defense attorney Joel Daniels objected to bringing back Dr. Osiewicz, but the prosecution argued it's not to cover new ground, only to explain the misunderstanding that defense expert Dr. Jimmie Valentine had on the stand about taking blood samples in the Erie County Lab.

The judge allowed it.

Dr. Valentine said Monday the Dr. Osiewicz's blood draw was unreliable because the lab's procedures weren't accurate. Tuesday, on rebuttal, Osciewz defended his methods. He said if he had to re-do his tests he would feel comfortable doing that.

Osciewicz's testified earlier that Corasanti's BAC was a .10 five hours after the crash.

The defense team wrapped up their testimony with an accident reconstruction expert, David Liske, seeking to cast doubt on the accuracy of evidence presented by the prosecution.

Using Amherst police figures, Liske testified today that Corasanti was going "39.9 mph." A prosecution expert previously testified Corasanti was traveling 46-52 mph. The Heim Road speed limit is 35 mph.

Liske also testified that Alix Rice was "24 inches above the ground," and that there's no indication she was not run over from back to front.

Liske testified that "she (Alix) was heading diagonally in a northwest direction" and that "the tip of the board was north of the fog line."

He said part of her longboard was in Dr. Corasanti's lane. Previously, an Amherst Police investigator investigator testified Dr. Corasanti drifted crossed over the fog lane and struck Alix there.

Defense attorney Tom Burton asked, "Is there any evidence on the bottom (of the longboard) consistent with the board being hit from behind?"

Liske answered, "No."

Liske held the longboard that Alix rode to show how it was hit. The judge would not allow him to stand on a replica of the longboard.

Testimony became heated Tuesday, with voices being raised between prosecutor Belling and Liske.

Belling asked Liske about the payment he was receiving to be a part of this case and the exchange became testy.  He also questioned Liske about a photo of the road where the accident happened. The witness started saying in a loud voice, "The jury deserves to hear my answer on why this photo is absurd."

The judge quickly had jurors leave and she admonished both sides to keep it professional.  Liske apparently got testy with Judge DiTullio and she told him, "You don't run this show."

Monday's testimony included the defense team calling Dr. Jimmie Valentine, a toxicologist and pharmacologist from Ocean Springs, Mississippi and a retired professor from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine.

Dr. Valentine testified that the BAC in Corasanti's blood draw and testing were unreliable for a few reasons:

1. During the blood draw, the vacuum was not working properly on the blood vial, which was not fully filled. The seal was broken, Valentine said, meaning the sample was contaminated with bacteria and fungus in the air, both of which eat sugar in the blood and produce alcohol.

2. The blood test machine was not properly calibrated, meaning the result was unreliable. 

3. Valentine testified that the lab tech did not put in a blank vial between Dr. Corasanti's blood and a sample with alcohol used to set the levels for the machine.

He said the "retrograde extrapolation" used to determine Corasanti's BAC at the time of the accident is also unreliable. He said that, while crime labs accept it, it is academically rejected because it is based on averages from a study on a small sample of 10-100 people.

On cross-examination, Prosecutor Christopher Belling noted that the defense team was paying Dr. Valentine approximately $10,000 for his work and expenses. Additionally, Dr. Valentine did not conduct his own testing on Dr. Corasanti's blood sample even though it was available for him to do so.

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