James Corasanti: Where is the justice?
If youíve followed the trial of Dr. James Corasanti in past weeks, you may or may not agree. If you havenít heard anything about Corasantiís case or trial, I donít know where youíve been, but here is what you need to know.
In July 2011 Dr. James Corasanti was driving on Heim Road in Amherst around 11:20 p.m. when he hit 18-year-old long board skater Alexandria Rice with his car. Corasanti left the scene of the accident; Rice died.
Corasantiís lawyers say that regardless of whether or not the doctor left the accident scene, Rice would have died because of a broken neck. Corasanti testified that he did not see the teenager before or after impact.
Corasanti was on his way home from a country club gathering where he had been drinking throughout the day. Records show he was also texting while driving. After he had arrived at his Getzville home, he noticed considerable damage to his car, as well as blood and tissue. He panicked, cleaned the blood off the car, deleted the text messages, spoke with a lawyer, and went for a walk before turning himself in to police.
His defense maintained that Corasanti was not impaired by alcohol when he hit Rice with his car and left her. The prosecution said otherwise. But witness testimony from the country club that day did indicate that the doctor had consumed a reasonable amount of alcohol over a period of time. As far as the texting while driving, the defense and prosecution also disagreed, even though the doctorís coworkers received text messages at the time he was driving.
Corasanti faced felony charges of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting Ė resulting in death, and two accounts of tampering with evidence.
If convicted, the doctor could have faced up to 23 years in prison. But despite the evidence presented, he was found not guilty of all felony charges.
Instead, he was convicted of a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.
In order to convict Corasanti of vehicular manslaughter, there had to be proof that driving while intoxicated was directly connected to Riceís death. In order to convict him of second-degree manslaughter, there had to be proof that criminal recklessness was tied to her death.
But apparently driving while intoxicated and committing a hit and run while intoxicated do not go hand-in-hand. The doctor is convicted of driving while intoxicated, but hitting someone with a car and killing her while doing so is not deserving of a conviction?
Where was the jury on this?
Iím no law expert, but I have enough common sense to see that something is wrong with this picture.
So you can tamper with evidence, but you donít get convicted of tampering with evidence? As far as I know, washing another human beingís blood and tissue off of the car you just hit ďsomethingĒ with constitutes as tampering with evidence. Also, itís pretty clear that if the doctor thought to erase the text messages he had sent while driving that night, he knew that something he did was wrong. And since when did texting while driving not constitute as criminal recklessness?
James Corasanti made some terrible decisions that evening and will face the most minimal of consequences, barely a slap on the wrist. Alexandria Rice was on her way home from work Ė doing nothing wrong except for maybe not wearing bright enough clothing at night Ė and she now is dead.
Where was the jury? Where were their heads at? What made them arrive at their non-guilty findings?
People obviously make mistakes. James Corasanti is obviously a distinguished man. His was obviously a high profile court case. But would the outcome be different if it was just some average Joe who hit and left Alexandria Rice? I have to wonderÖ
Something just does not feel right about the verdict that was reached, and it will probably never make sense to many people who believe that Corasanti should be held accountable for what happened that night.
But the world works in mysterious ways, and some things we will just never understand. The now-inexplicable death of Alexandria Rice is one of those things.