Alex West, Lake George Boating Accident Verdict – Radio Transcript:
Announcer: PYX 106, capital lens, classic rock with “Quinn and Cantara.”
Man: It’s 1-800-LAW-1010, 1800law1010.com, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the horn.
Man 1: Good morning, Paul.
Paul: Good morning, guys.
Man 1: So you got Alex West verdict yesterday. Did it unfold like you thought it would?
Paul: Well, the question on the table was, was he gonna be found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, or was it gonna be, sort of, what we’ll call the “lesser offense” of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide. So, yeah, they found him guilty of the most serious crime, and I think that was the question that was sort of looming and was on the table.
Man 1: And what does that mean for time, you know, sentencing kind of thing, and his ability to get out down the road?
Paul: Sure, yup. The manslaughter is the most serious, 5 to 15 years, right? So, the other ones were significantly less. In fact, if they had gone with, and that was the prevailing thought, that this criminally negligent homicide was one-and-a-third to four years, so significantly different. And although, you know, they sort of add up to seven and a half to 22 years, I suspect that when it comes time for sentencing, and again that’s the judge’s role and judge’s decision, that they may just hold him accountable with the manslaughter. And the other charges that he was convicted of would run what they call “concurrent” or you sort of run the time, you know, while…
Man: At the same time.
Paul: …you’re running the manslaughter time. Yeah.
Man: Obviously, it runs at the same time.
Man: Well, I mean could he do the full 22 or…?
Paul: Let’s say that judge comes back and does say seven and a third to the maximum of 22 years, right? So at the minimum, which would be the seven and a third, he’s not gonna be let out the minimum, which is death, which just never happens. But then about two-thirds of the maximum, so take the 22, two-thirds puts you at about 15 years. That would be sort of the longest that he would be there, assuming there weren’t other issues in prison, you know, to get some additional time. So, at this point, if the judge came back, gave him 5 to 15, you know, some version of 10 years would be when Alex would then start, getting…being released on parole, and supervision, and things like that.
Cantara: All right. So, it’s Attorney Paul Harding. We’re talking about the Alex West verdict which came down. Does the judge feel public pressure? Because this is a pretty high-profile case, would a judge feel public pressure, and cave to it, and give him the longest sentence possible, or they don’t care?
Paul: Yeah, I don’t think a judge is ever gonna, you know, sort of admit that. But, obviously, you know, you step along the way…
Quinn: Now that you brought it up, Cantara, now the judge heard that, he’s gonna have to now throw book at the guy.
Cantara: Judges aren’t elected, right? They’re appointed, right?
Quinn: Are local judges…?
Paul: No. Yeah, actually, the judges are elected. Now, in the state…
Quinn: Okay. Well, yeah, with the local judge…
Paul: …you know, in Massachusetts, there’s an appointment process. Here, we have the election which is always a little tricky, right? So they’re after sort of, you know, raising money, and looking for votes, and all that, then all of a sudden, they gotta remove themselves from that. But at this point, you know, I think it is a type of trial where they’re very careful and they know it’s gonna be scrutinized, but, ultimately, probably the judge is just gonna be reading all sorts of reports about this kid and the pre-sentence investigation stuff, and then make a decision. And now, ultimately, the public pressure won’t affect the decision but it’s certainly…the judge is certainly gonna his or her homework.
Man: Yeah, yeah. No, go ahead.
Man: What about an appeal?
Paul: Yeah. Well, you know, the Attorney, Cheryl Coleman, a super-competent attorney kind of said this, “That it doesn’t make sense, you know, his alcohol piece was thrown out early.” If you remember, they did the testing and they weren’t able to use that, and yet, there was a finding that he had…he was impaired by alcohol, right?
Paul: So, you know, I think there’s some arguments for appeal but, again, the main thing here is the second-degree manslaughter. So even if you get some of those lesser ones thrown out, I don’t…
Man: Right, the 15 at least.
Paul: Yeah. I think that’s gonna sort of win the day.
Man: And then one last one for me, it’s Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1800LAW1010 or 1800law1010.com. We were talking yesterday like they don’t sequester jurors? Like…?
Man: So they started deliberating on Friday then they go home for the weekend. They got back on…
Man: Because there was that story…
Man: …Monday and deliberate?
Man: The story about the two girls last week who…
Man: A guy and a girl busted for drugs.
Man: A guy and girl who were busted for drugs again, you know, after all this went down, like kind of showing that they hadn’t learned anything. If you’re a jury, you can kind of go back home and look at the internet. Even though you’re told not to, you know you’re gonna do it.
Paul: Well, this is what they’re told. They said, “Listen, you know, don’t do any research, don’t go on the case, don’t talk to anybody” but someone is just gonna… Yeah, that’s the kind of thing, someone might say, “Holy cow, did you see that,” you know? Sure, sequestered juries tend to be when you have just the type of…you know, number one, maybe for their protection but, two, the media is just so influential here that they just don’t want them to get exposed to it. This is not the case where they sequester. Tremendous amount of expense and inconvenience on the part of the jurors but, hopefully, the jurors did not do anything independent and do any research, and that’s sort of what they’re told to do…
Man: Now, Cheryl Coleman made a point… You know, look this is…a lot of lives have been ruined here, a lot of lives have been ruined here, and if I’m Cheryl Coleman…and I’m Alex West, God forbid, I don’t wanna be Alex West, but I’m hoping that they’re sequestered. I’m hoping the jurors don’t get to see stories like that and I’m hoping I get as little time as possible, even though I F-ed up big time, you know?
Paul: Yeah, but, you know, that’s just the way it goes and there’s only… You know, those are the risks you take and I think that the jurors presumably did what they were supposed to. But sure, you know, just the course of just waking up in the morning, you’ve got a child, or you’ve got a relative, or somebody calls you, and you hear about that, now you’re supposed to report that back to the judge. And I didn’t hear anything about that and so I think that, at this point, probably a moot point.
Man: We’re replacing Log Bay Day with something. We haven’t come up with it yet but…
Man: With something, yeah.
Man: …I’m thinking of a fully-clothed chess tournament.
Man: One question…
Man: Chess tournament.
Man: …hate that day…
Paul: You probably get less attendance but it’s a good…yeah.
Man: Less attendance, you don’t know that yet, Paul.
Paul: Well, I don’t know that.
Man: You don’t know that.
Paul: You’re right.
Man: Less attendance.
Man: Well, listen, we appreciate all the information this morning and then thanks for coming on. Thank you.
Man: Thanks, Paul.
Man: We appreciate it.
Paul: Okay, guys, talk soon.
Man: There you go. Well, it’s Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1800LAW1010, 1800law1010.com.
Announcer: “Quinn and Cantara,” mornings on PYX 106.
For more information on the the Alex West trial, find out what led to the verdict, Paul’s analysis of the verdict, or Paul’s interview discussing the recent shooting at Crossgates Mall along with some insights to the sentencing of Alex West.