Dr. James Corasanti (right) along with defense attorney Joel Daniels (left)/ sketch: Ralph Sirianni
BUFFALO, NY-- The defense attorney for Dr. James Corasanti, who is accused in a fatal hit and run, requested a mistrial on Monday morning.
Attorney Joel Daniels made the request in court Monday morning. He cited an article that ran in the Buffalo News over the weekend that quoted Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita in regards to DWIs.
Sedita would not do an on-camera interview about Daniels' claim, but told 2 On Your Side's Scott Brown, "I did not comment [in the Buffalo News article], and will not comment on the Corasanti trial while it is ongoing. Ironically, I'm one of the few lawyers in town who is not speaking publicly about the Corasanti trial."
Judge Sheila DiTullio denied the request, but the defense has requested that the jury be polled to see if anyone has read the article.
The trial also lost an alternate juror. Alternate #4 requested to be removed because of an illness in the family. That leaves only two alternates because alternate #1 was placed on the jury last week when Juror #4 was removed.
Dr. Corasanti is accused of hitting Alix Rice with his car while she was riding her long board, and leaving her to die on Heim Road last July.
The prosecution wrapped up their questioning of Amherst Police Investigator Kevin Murphy. He began his testimony Friday when Corasanti's vehicle was brought into evidence.
Monday's direct examination downplayed any notion that Alix Rice could not be seen. According to Murphy, Corasanti's BMW had a "high tech advanced headlight system"; the brighter light allows the driver to see better. The headlight system is connected to the steering wheel. As you turn left or right, so do the lights.
The headlights were displayed in court for jurors to see.
Murphy testified about damage to the passenger side of the vehicle. He said, "The skateboard was run over by the front tight tire components, the wheel was run over by the rear right tire. "
He also said that wood from the skateboard was found jammed up in the floor pan of the car.
Investigator Murphy also testified about garbage picked up from Corasanti's home after the accident.
Murphy said the Corasanti's did not place their garbage tote out for pickup the Tuesday after the accident.
Investigators planned a controlled pickup for the next garbage collection on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. He said 10 plastic bags and two paper bags of garbage were recovered.
Murphy testified that there was a rag in one of the bags. He said, "It was covered with maggots, an ungodly smell."
The rag was sent to be examined as possible evidence. Murphy did not testify on what it was determined to be in the rag.
Murphy said that he went to Corasanti's home to serve warrant for his cell phone. He testified, "The defendant came to the door... he indicated that the phone was no longer working."
Defense attorney Tom Burton's began his cross examination of Investigator Murphy Monday afternoon.
Upon questioning, Inv. Murphy noted there was "no scuffing or tire marks" on the neighborhood curbs that often curve and "no evidence of scuffing" on the outside of Dr. Corasanti's tires. It was an obvious move by the defense to show Dr. Corasanti was driving under control the night of the crash.
There was more talk of lighting and how all the evidence photos had to be taken with a flash or some source of artificial light and finally at one point Inv. Murphy said and answered, "Yes, it was dark."
Burton also had Inv. Murphy review the parts of the car found at the scene: the piece that squirts out the cleaning fluid, the right outside rear view mirror, headlight mounting pieces, other scraps. Murphy said in total they weighed less than 2 pounds.
Burton had Murphy agree there was not one iota of damage to the radiator, which is normally one of the first things to go in a front end crash. He also agreed the hood is aluminum and made so it folds up when it hits something.
Then Burton got into a line of questioning to show that Dr. Corasanti may not have seen Rice.
Burton asked, "Did you see any steering induced action on the road as a result of Dr. Corasanti's actions?"
"No," responded Inv. Murphy.
Inv. Murphy agreed Rice's biological material and skin was found on the car's lowest component, the bumper, and the lip of the hood. Burton asked if those areas would be below the sight line for someone driving, and Murphy agreed.
Then, in an effort to prove Rice was crouching while riding her longboard, Burton talked about a person's center of gravity and which way they would vault after being hit by a car. Inv. Murphy testified for the 167 feet Rice "flew" she was in the air for a portion of it and riding on the car for a portion of it. He agreed there was no damage to Corasanti's windshield, roof or trunk and there's no evidence she went over the top of the car.
Burton asked Murphy, in his years of investigating accidents, if he would agree that people with high center of gravities fly toward the windshields and over over the roof of cars, and people with low center of gravities don't.
Inv. Murphy had trouble answering the question. He said, "It depends on the car involved."