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September 28, 2010 - 3:44pm

Jury in Wendt case finds him guilty on all 11 counts

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alexander, Darien, Ronald J. Wendt II.

UPDATED at 5:04 p.m.

ron_wendt_outside_court.jpgRonald J. Wendt II, 25, of Alexander, is guilty of DWI and aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of 18-year-old Katie Stanley on Aug. 14, 2009, a Genesee County jury concluded today.

The jury also convicted Wendt of the nine other counts against him, including vehicular manslaughter, 2nd, which carries a possible 25-year prison term.

The jury deliberated less than two hours after hearing more than four days of testimony in which defense attorney Thomas Burns tried to establish that Wendt wasn't legally intoxicated at the time of the accident and that the actions of the driver of the other car, Rachel Enderle, 27, of Dansville, contributed to the accident.

"I don't want to get into anything about the case other than to say I'm disappointed in the verdict," Burns said. "That's about all I have to say."

While the speed of the verdict surprised Burns, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the quick decision shows the people had a solid case on all charges against Wendt.

"I'm very pleased for Katie's family and the other victims of the crash," Friedman said. "Justice was served."

In the hours before the accident, Wendt worked with a friend baling hay in Attica. Toward the end of the workday, they began drinking beer. According to William D. Marchisin, 35, of Darien, Wendt and he each had as many as six beers prior to the accident, including one about 15 minutes beforehand.

The duo was going to stop off at My Saloon for "just one more" when Wendt decided to make a left-hand turn off Route 20 right in front of Enderle's oncoming car.

Stanley, also of Dansville, was riding in the right rear passenger seat.

Friedman acknowledged that people drink and drive in Genesee County every day and they rarely wind up involved in a fatal car accident.

"Obviously, the vast majority believe nothing like this happens, but that's the reason we have these laws," Friedman said. "I'm sure this defendant never expected anything like this could ever happen to him, but that's what the problem is, you never know. Anybody who is driving while intoxicated could find themselves in this situation."

Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Nov. 15. Friedman said he hasn't even started to think about a sentencing recommendation.

Burns said there will be an appeal, but as is his policy, he won't represent Wendt in the appeal.

Photo: File photo of Ron Wendt.

George Richardson
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I just think this was a terrible accident. Punishment is due the guilty party, but there are limits. Two weeks ago a Guatamalan immigrant, illegally in Austin, got a twenty five year sentence for running a red light and killing a man in his mid sixties, who had just arrived in town for a business meeting and was travelling to the hotel. The difference is, the driver had been deported after a drunken driving conviction, twice before, and he ignored a cop with his lights and siren blaring while he drove twenty miles an hour and threw beer bottles out of his Cadillac Escalde SUV window for several blocks before gunning the engine, running a red light and killing the businessman. His alcohol content was very high and he was a total scofflaw. If you reserve twenty five year sentences for cases like that, it's justified.
Liz Fuchs
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.. Had she been going the speed limit, he would have had to time to turn. Him knowing the area, would have known what was or was not enough time to make a turn. Unless of course an on coming car was speeding.. I'm not saying Ron doesn't deserve punishment. I'm saying he's not the only one. and that b.s excuse of "Well she has to live with is everyday that a young girl died"... you think Ron doesn't. This is just sad for everyone involved. Everyone looking to blame someone else. Even if the blame should be spread equally. We have to pin it on one person to make ourselves feel better... God Bless America...
Jason Murray
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finally somebody gets what i was saying
Bob Rathenburgh
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100% agree with liz.
Laura Pacer
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Speed limit or not his time conception was impaired. He was drinking all day in the sun.
Bob Rathenburgh
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Also, I went by the area today and there is not a "reduced speed limit ahead" sign before the 40 MPH however, there are TWO 40 MPH signs BEFORE you even get to the bar. The first one you can CLEARLY see from a distance, you would have enough time even if you were doing something else - it can be seen for some time, and the second one you see right at the top of the hill. So how is it she miss TWO signs? Signs that would reflect brightly at night from headlights. What the heck do people pay attention to when they drive if they dont see these signs (multipul signs to be exact in this situation), they are there for a reason.
Bob Rathenburgh
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Are you just basing this on your personal experience? As far as i am concerned, in my opinion, i would say you would drink more because your body is hot and dehydrated. It would be based on consumption not the alcohol being more "strong" than any other time. It just depends on how much alcohol, what you weigh, how long between drinks and your experience dealing with it all!
Frank Bartholomew
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All the debate in the world won't change the results of this accident. What is does though is teach, wear your seatbelt, drive the speed limit, and don't drink and drive.
Janice Stenman
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We started wearing seatblets when you has to order them as extras in a new car. Anyone who does not wear a seatbelt is asking for trouble. Mr. Wendt was DUI, but the girl who died was not. She had a proven lifesaving device at her disposal and chose not to use it. As to the speed limit. I live a couple of miles from where the accident occurred and I have to remind myself each time I drive through there to slow down. In my opinion, there should be a flashing sign stating reduced speed limit ahead. All that being said, I am not excusing Wendt's BAC. But it is a sad day for ALL involved.
Mark Janofsky
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It's graphic, but every teenager should see this video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kv2SULi-wg&NR=1
Michael Tost
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Does everyone realize that he was also driving an unregistered, uninsured, and uninspected vehicle? Also not displaying a front plate? Intoxicated or not, the vehicle he was driving had no reason to even be on the road, thus solidifying the case even more. Lets take another approach...say alcohol wasn't even a factor in this case. Do you still believe that someone who decides to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that isn't even legal, does the same thing, should be held accountable for the loss of an innocent life? I do. The fact is, is that this man didn't just make one bad decision, he made several. I'm not defending either side. I'm simply saying, as I have stated in previous posts, that we all have the power to make decisions that will affect the lives of others, and good or bad, in the end, we have to take responsibility for those actions.
Michele Case
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Laura your comment that one cannot drive after drinking any number of drinks is not in keeping even with the law. You further say he had to have been affected because of drinking all day. As I recall, Mr Wendt drank 5 beers over the course of several hours, in keeping with the legal limit. Saying "he took his chance" is not really fair in his case. 2 years ago in Byron, a woman misjudged her distance and turned in front of a truck. Both of her children were killed. She was not under the influence of alcohol. It was an accident. I am not convinced that this was any different. In fact, I tend to agree with Liz...the guy lives in that area and probably knew it was a safe turn, not realizing the oncoming car was speeding. My job has taken me through that area twice in the last week, and one thing I did notice was that anyone on the porch of that place (like the one witness) could not have seen Mr Wendt until the last second! He probably sped up when making that turn when he saw how fast the other car was approaching as opposed to what she said that he never slowed down or something like that. Unfortunate accident, but I am inclined to believe Judge Noonan will see the extenuating circumstances, he is a pretty good Judge and makes fair decisions taking all things into account. I am not condoning drinking and driving for sure, just not convinced this was the cause of this accident.
Michele Case
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BTW, what are all the charges... 11 charges?
Good Point, Mike.
Laura Pacer
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Mike he said he had 5 beers he was balling hay which is a really good work out so he was sweating and thirsty and in sun. I used to ball hay and my dad would drink and hes been drinking along time but in that sun working hard like that it never took much. Weather he was over the limit or not he should not have gotten behind the wheel.
Howard B. Owens
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A couple of points of clarification -- : Wendt had insurance. In fact, his insurance company is defending him in the lawsuit filed by the Enderle's. His proof of insurance was introduced at trial. : Also, while an officer testified that he didn't believe Wendt's truck was registered, there was never any proof provided that it wasn't registered. I remember being told early on that the citations on these issues were dropped.
This whole thing is just sad. An 18 year old girl lost her life and now a 25 year old man will lose most of his... Life is filled with little moments...and it's the choices that we make in those moments that can determine our future. I'm sure both of these young people would like to have that moment in time back again. They can't though, neither of them. What's done is done. I have heard and seen enough from Judge Noonan to know that he is a fair and compassionate man. Mr. Wendt will be punished for his part in this, but I doubt for the full 25 years. Regardless, a punishment is in order, as a jury of his peers concluded. We can all sit here and speculate, for that's all this is. Mr. Wendt committed a crime, someone died because of it and now he will face jail time. While our sympathies for Mr. Wendt's future is understandable, the critism of Katie's use of a seatbelt are just mundane and frankly stupid. Sure, Katie should have had her seatbelt on, but there are a ton of other factors that should, or shouldn't have happened, that are the real cause of her death. I hope everyone can heal from this.
Jason Murray
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Noonan Fair. HA! thats a good one. he is one of the most biased self absorbed judges i have ever seen she would of survived if she wore her seatbelt
Howard B. Owens
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While wearing a seat belt is sensible, the lack of a seat belt does not cause accidents. The three other people in the car suffered serious, life-altering injuries. Wendt also faced charges related to these injuries as well.
Jason Murray
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my point is not that the accident wouldnt of happened if shw wore her seatbelt its that she would of survived as my other post showed and it is also the drivers responsibility to make sure everybody is buckled up
Kyle Couchman
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Ok after reading all the comments and story here I just have to make a quick comment or two. 1st lets not bring the drama in....if I am not mistaken and I'm sure Howard will correct me, if he is given 25 yrs then he will actually be doing 5 to 7 before he can be paroled. So lets cut the oh he loses 25 yrs of his life. Nothing concrete ever stated that the kids were actually speeding, she said she thought she was, even the guy following said he was, however the driver behind the kids was able to stop before hitting the back of the kids car so he couldn't have been following that closely, and with distance the speed can be misinterpreted. Seatbelt is a non issue, she was of age and it was her choice, it didnt contribute to the accident so it means nothing in the case as far as I'm concerned, others in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts and were still pretty severely injured. Now on to the drinking.... I drink myself, I know how dangerous it can be and I make arrangements to either stay where I am drinking, or have a sober ride. No exceptions and no excuses, it that or I dont drink. Now as far as the harshness of the prosecution of dui offenses, well they are necessary as we have been so lax on the enforcement in the good ol days that its come to be expected. Let me pose it another way, if he had taken a perscription drug and drove would he still be as responsible, most would say if he was aware that it could effect his skills and judgement then yes...well we ALL know alcohol does. He drank, he was going into the bar and took a chance with an oncoming car, if he wasnt impaired he would have realized he didnt have enough time, he took a chance driving after having drank that afternoon. Oh and on the hot day and hay baling argument. When you drink while working hard it does in fact effect you quicker, and stays with you longer because your body is trying to replace fluids and re hydrate you. And the body is going to slow down as much as possible the elimination of liquids and divert everything to the body to keep energy and hydration levels good. Plus your metabolism is going full bast when baling hay, so anything you take is gonna slam into you quick, why do you think people dont take cold medicine or other medicines while doing this......Hell drinking coffee can slam you hard when doing this kind of work. So with all the armchair quarterbacking going on, the facts remain. We dont have the whole picture, and we sit and give opinions. Which aren right or wrong they just are. But a jury was presented with facts, and made their determination from them. The driver took a chance, it didnt work and he ended up taking a life, he is lucky he didn't die as well.
Tim Enderle
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Liz, Had my car I was in was going 50 or 25 we still would have crashed. The time he decided to turn we were literally about to pass him. It was a last second decision that was made while he was impaired. And if we didn't crash into him the car behind us would have. We were almost sandwiched in between two vehicles. It was a sad situation but yet if the shoe were on the other foot, I would take full responsibility for my actions as well. Because that's how I was raised. Again, we all must deal with the consequences of every decision we make. It's a sad way to learn that lesson in such a manor. But that is why there are such laws.

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