I caught up with court reporter Patrick Lakamp in the newsroom this morning as he headed off to what he believes may be the day of reckoning in the Dr. James G. Corasanti hit-and-run and manslaughter trial. Lakamp's story in today's News presents an overall summary of the case concerning the night of July 8 when the Getzville doctor's car struck and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice, skating home from work on a longboard.
In our chat, Lakamp offered the following observations:
* He thinks the verdict will come quickly, possibly today.
* Much hangs on how the jury sees and evaluates the following key elements of the trial:
1. The testimony of motorist Mark Rowland, very damaging to Corasanti if it's found believable. Rowland testified, for example, that Rice was highly visible as she skated along the side of the road.
2. The blood test, showing a 0.10 percent blood-alcohol level -- .02 over the legal limit -- five hours after the incident. Lakamp noted that the defense has vigorously attacked the lab results with an expert witness who said he had no confidence in it.
3. Corasanti's actions when he arrived at home that night. "How do they perceive that whole scenario, his wife going off to the scene, his interactions with neighbors?" The defense has leaned heavily on the idea that he panicked and that none of us know how we would act under that pressure. But will the jury buy that?
Although many who've been riveted by this trial believe it's an easy call against Corasanti, Lakamp says there are many ways the jury could see it. Was it a terrible but understandable accident, followed by panic? Or was it a case of drunken reckless driving, followed by an attempted cover-up? How the jury sees that will mean the difference between a sentence of a year or two in prison versus 23 years.
Lakamp's coverage has been balanced, well-written and perceptive, not only the day-to-day court stories but the more analytical Sunday pieces. Here is the most recent of those, from this past weekend, concerning key witnesses who were not called to testify.