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Dr. James Corasanti Testimony

7:37 PM, May 21, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - The cross examination of Dr. James Corasanti finished on Monday afternoon.

After a lengthy cross examination, Dr. Corasanti told jurors on re-direct, "I felt personal guilt, not criminal guilt, because I was never able to help someone that I hurt."

The physician, who prosecutors say was driving drunk when he struck and killed Alexandria Rice in July 2011, maintains he never saw the 18-year-old on her longboard on Heim Road. He once again said, "I knew I ran over something ... I had no suspicion I hit a person."

The day started with defense attorney Joel Daniels calling for a mistrial again. This time he cited an article in Sunday's Buffalo News. He called it "provocative and unfair." Judge DiTullio polled each juror in court and asked them if they read article, and each said no. The Judge denied the request.

Before testimony resumed, juror number 4 was dismissed. The juror had just been hired by the State Department of Corrections and needed to begin training. The juror was replaced with an alternate. Only one alternate juror remains.

The prosecution questioned Corasanti about the damage to his vehicle following the impact. Corasanti said he could not see the damage from the driver's seat. The prosecution said witnesses testified earlier stating they could see the damage from the driver's seat.

When Corasanti was asked whether or not he knew he hit a person when he discovered blood and human tissue on his vehicle, he said he had "zero suspicion" he had hit a person.

After repeatedly stating he didn't know what he hit -- a dog, a deer, an animal -- Corasanti in a very firm tone said: "If I thought it was a person, of course I would have gone back. I had no idea this was a person, Mr. Bargnesi."

Prosecutor Bargnesi questioned Corasanti on why he didn't call 911 after the accident. Bargnesi said within a 26-minute time frame all of the following events occurred: Corasanti had the accident, went home and saw the damage; his wife went to the scene, returned home and they called defense attorney Burton. Not once did they call police.

Bargnesi: "Why did you call a lawyer?"
Corasanti: "He's my friend. I didn't know what to do."

The next person to testify for the defense was 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.

A large crowd of spectators was on hand at Erie County Court hoping to get a seat in the courtroom to watch the proceedings. More are expected on Monday.

The next witness for the defense will be a toxicologist, according to attorney Daniels.

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