Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced that John W. Cole, dob 2/26/65, of 540B Englemore Road, Clifton Park, New York, was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, a Class “D” Violent felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 120.05(4); Driving While Ability Impaired, a traffic violation, in violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192(1); and Reckless Driving, an unclassified misdemeanor, in violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1212. The jury found defendant Cole not guilty of Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree. This verdict follows a two-week trial where over a dozen witnesses testified and more than 100 pieces of evidence were considered by the jury. The jury deliberated over 8 hours during the course of two days before delivering the verdict to the Honorable James A. Murphy, III at 2:30 pm today.
This verdict stems from a crash that occurred on March 11, 2017 on Sitterly Road in the Town of Halfmoon. The evidence presented to the jury showed that defendant Cole consumed alcohol at two local establishments before he got behind the wheel of his 2015 BMW 650i with his wife and two backseat passengers. He recklessly drove down Sitterly Road at 78 mph- almost twice the posted speed limit of 40 mph- through multiple curves. As he drove at such a high rate of speed, he lost control of his vehicle, and eventually crashed into a tree. Cole’s car was equipped with an airbag control module, which captured data that documented the speed of the vehicle, the fact that Cole continued throughout the crash to have the accelerator depressed 100% and that he failed to engage the brakes at any time. Cole, his wife and one backseat passenger sustained minor injuries; however, the other backseat passenger suffered serious physical injuries that have left her paralyzed from the neck down.
DA Heggen noted, “This case represents the tragic results that too often occur after someone gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and drives while under the influence of alcohol. His reckless conduct of speeding on a curvy road, at almost twice the speed limit, together with being impaired by alcohol, was the formula that resulted in the victim’s life being forever changed”.
Assistant District Attorney Katherine J. DeMartino prosecuted the case with assistance of Assistant District Attorney Charles O. Bucca. ADA DeMartino praised the extraordinary efforts of the New York State Police at Clifton Park and the NYSP Crash Reconstruction Unit. “The NYSP Crash Reconstruction Unit collected and pieced together a mountain of evidence to demonstrate the defendant’s reckless conduct”.
Sentencing for Cole, who was represented by Cheryl Coleman, Esq., is scheduled for April 27, 2018 at 9:30 am. Judge Murphy remanded the defendant to the Saratoga County Jail following the verdict.