A state appeals court Friday upheld the conviction of a drunken driver who caused a June 1987 accident that killed three Pembroke Central School students and their driver education teacher.
In an opinion written by Justice John H. Doerr of Buffalo, the five-member Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester rejected Lyndon Goodell's claim that police illegally obtained blood samples from him while he was unconscious after the midday crash June 10.
"Anyone who drives an automobile in New York State has given consent to a blood test," Doerr said, provided that police act with reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed and get the blood within two hours of an incident.
The appellate court also rejected Goodell's claim that his trial in the summer of 1988 never should have been held because he was suffering from amnesia and could remember little of what happened to him two weeks before or after the crash.
A court-appointed psychiatrist and a psychologist agreed at the time of the trial that Goodell was mentally fit for trial and he "was not deprived of a fair trial by his inability to recall events," Doerr said.
Goodell, 25, of Batavia, is serving a 7 1/2 - to 15-year sentence in the Attica Correctional facility.
According to medical evidence, Goodell, then a student at Bryant & Stratton Business Institute, was drunk when he was driving the car of a fellow student and collided with a Pembroke driver education car on Route 5 near East Pembroke.
Carol Rokicki Elder, who owned the car and was a passenger, was given immunity for testifying against Goodell.
Killed in the crash were high school students Rhonda L. Reeves, Kathlena "Mindy" Beals and Eric Hamm-Johnson, all 17, and instructor Patrick E. Collins, 55.
Following a three-week trial in August 1988, Goodell was convicted of four counts of second-degree manslaughter, four counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and lesser charges.
In October, Goodell was indicted on criminal mischief charges for allegedly breaking 50 prison windows during an inmate uprising at Attica in May following the death of another inmate.
Stephen M. Brent of Rochester, Goodell's attorney, said he will seek to have the conviction set aside based on a Batavia woman's claims that Goodell wasn't driving the car.
Earlier this year, Mary Arnold, 67, gave Brent a sworn affidavit saying that moments before the crash, she saw a man sitting in the car's front passenger seat.
Brent said he couldn't raise that issue during a hearing before the Rochester appellate court two months ago because it didn't come up during the 1988 trial. Brent said he is developing other evidence to corroborate Mrs. Arnold's claims.
The Rochester court also rejected Goodell's claims that Genesee County prosecutors delayed providing him the statement of Stephanie Lasker, another Bryant & Stratton student, who said Goodell wasn't in the driver's seat of the car before it left the Buffalo area.
The Lasker statement is "consistent with" Mrs. Elder's claim that she was in the driver's seat when she and Goodell started drinking and switched places with him before he began driving, the court noted.
The court also rejected Goodell's claim that Public Defender Fern K. Acomb wasn't an "effective counsel."