Arrest in death of Trooper

A 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the death of New York State Trooper Craig Todeschini, who was killed on Sunday night when his patrol vehicle crashed into a tree during the pursuit of a motorcycle. Below is an article distributed by the Associated Press about the arrest and arraignment.

Associated Press Writer
April 28, 2006, 4:17 PM EDT

LAFAYETTE, N.Y. — A 20-year-old man accused of speeding through an upstate New York hamlet at more than 100 mph was arraigned Friday on criminal charges in the death of the state trooper who tried to chase him.

Authorities said they might have found James J. Carncross sooner but investigators were "misdirected" by other motorcyclists who consider it sport to be chased by police.

Carncross, of Jamesville, was charged with aggravated second-degree manslaughter and aggravated criminally negligent homicide in the death of Trooper Craig Todeschini.

Todeschini, 25, of Geddes, was buried Thursday. He died Sunday when his vehicle crashed into a tree in the hamlet of Pompey Hill while chasing a speeding motorcyclist.

Authorities said Friday for the first time that it appeared Todeschini hit the tree going less than 50 mph.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Carncross was being charged under new state laws passed in December that gives greater protection to law enforcement officers. Because of the aggravated factor both charges carry sentences that have been enhanced from a maximum of 15 years in state prison to a maximum of 20 years, he said.

The manslaughter charge accused Carncross of acting recklessly. The homicide charge says his conduct was criminally negligent.

At Carncross’ arraignment before Judge William Walsh, defense lawyer David Savlov asked the judge to dismiss the counts. He said there was no evidence Carncross even knew he was being followed by a trooper at the time of the crash.

Fitzpatrick said prosecutors had witness statements and electronic and physical evidence that they would present to a grand jury within the next two weeks.

State Police Maj. Gerard Kropf said Carncross was taken into custody Wednesday on a probation violation warrant. He was previously convicted of grand larceny. Information from the public led to Carncross, Kropf said, but he would give no other details because of the pending court case.

Kropf said it did not appear alcohol or drugs were involved. He said Carncross gave a statement in which he admitted he was "trying to make it home without getting caught by the trooper."

Carncross was being held without bail on the probation violation. His next court appearance is scheduled Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick said his office also was reviewing possible obstruction or other charges against at least two other people who may have intentionally misled investigators.

"This investigation from the outset was misdirected by a group of bikers. They are a group of people who think being chased by troopers and deputies is a lark, it’s funny and somehow a badge of honor," Fitzpatrick said.