Date: February 27th, 2014
“After approximately one hour of jury deliberations and one requested read-back of a state trooper’s testimony from Tuesday, the jury foreperson read aloud the verdict of David T. Spencer, charged with felony DWI. The verdict returned was not-guilty.”
Ashley Biviano, Managing Editor – The Evening Sun
On Feb 23rd, 2013 David T. Spencer was arrested for allegedly operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Witnesses for the prosecution had testified that Spencer was discovered walking along state Route 7 while his vehicle was found in a ditch facing the opposite direction on Interstate 88. The arresting officer administered a field sobriety test on Spencer prior the arrest and stated that he had failed all three tests. At a key point in the arrest the arresting officer, State Trooper Copolla, admitted to making the mistake of transporting Spencer to be arraigned in the Town of Colesville Court where he was then sent to the Broome County Jail.
In addition, Trooper Copolla admitted that he failed to take notes on the sheet provided by the State Police for use during field sobriety tests. Defense attorney Thomas Jackson –and the trooper– agreed that this sheet is suggested to be used by all state troopers for the sole purpose of recollection in the event a DWI case should go to trial.
In the defense’s summation, Jackson told the jury the presumption of Spencer’s innocence changes only at the end once the Judge has read the law and they begin deliberations, and that it was up to the jury to determine if the people had met the “high burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Likely guilty, probably guilty, those are not enough,” said Jackson to the twelve jurors. “Intoxicated has a legal meaning that the Judge will read to you, and that is what you apply.” He added that the trooper failed to take any notes on the State Police provided sheet regarding the sobriety tests, and that the trooper failed to administer one of the tests, the Vertical Nystagmus test.
“Doesn’t it have to be more than that? Is that what you’re going to rely on? Shouldn’t you demand more from the State Police, to make sure they’ve done things all along the right way?” asked Jackson to the jury. “They have to be on top of their game, you should demand that.”
Following deliberations, the jury found Spencer not-guilty of the felony DWI charge against him. The DWI charge in question could have landed Spencer in prison for up to nine years but instead the jury came back with a guilty verdict of the lesser charge of driving while mobility impaired. This much lesser violation is punishable by a maximum of 15 days in jail.
To follow the case progression, please choose a link below.
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