Trial in death of Trooper

The trial of a man accused of leading Trooper Craig Todeschini on a chase that led to Trooper Todeschini’s death continues in Onondaga County Court. Trooper Todeschini was killed on April 23 when the State Police SUV he was driving crashed into a tree; he had been pursing a speeding motorcycle, which 21-year-old James Carncross is accused of driving. Carncross is on trial for aggravated manslaughter and aggravated criminal negligent homicide.

Below is an article from The Post-Standard newspaper of Syracuse about the trial.

Friday, December 01, 2006

By Frank Brieaddy, Staff Writer

The prosecution and defense in the James Carncross trial battled Thursday over how fast state Trooper Craig Todeschini was driving and the factors involved in the crash that killed him as he chased a speeding motorcycle through Pompey.

A device in the trooper’s Chevrolet Tahoe recorded a speed of 91 mph seconds before the crash. But state police accident reconstruction expert Dennis L. Cooper said other evidence led him to calculate a range of 83 to 88 mph.

Carncross, 21, of Jamesville, is accused of aggravated manslaughter and aggravated criminal negligent homicide in Todeschini’s death April 23.

Defense lawyer Salvatore Piemonte tried to get Cooper to cite other crash factors he had listed in a state police internal report, but he said they were generic and not specific to the incident.

The court ruled against the line of questioning twice, and on the third try Onondaga County Judge William F. Walsh dismissed the jury and threatened Piemonte with a contempt charge.

Piemonte did get Cooper to say the primary accident cause was Todeschini’s failure to reduce speed heading into curves.

The jury had to be cleared again, late in the day, when District Attorney William F. Fitzpatrick started taking testimony from state police Investigator David Longo about a statement taken from Carncross three days after the crash.

Piemonte argued that co-prosecutor Brian Lauri indicated during pretrial proceedings that the statement, which Carncross never signed, could not be used. Lauri agreed he said that, but the decision was made by Fitzpatrick and Walsh to allow Longo to testify, even though the statement was not entered into evidence.

Longo said Carncross admitted riding his motorcycle in the vicinity of the chase and crash at about the same time on the same day, but gave a route that doesn’t match chase descriptions by several prosecution witnesses.

In the morning, prosecution witnesses testified about the moments before the crash, and there was emphasis by both sides on determining the distance between the motorcycle and trooper vehicle as they traversed Pompey Center on state Route 91.

A graphic description Wednesday of the trooper dying in his vehicle brought tears from Todeschini’s family members in the front row of the courtroom. That prompted a plea Thursday by Piemonte to seek, and receive, from Walsh a caution to the gallery about emotional reactions that might be prejudicial.