Jury in Wendt case finds him guilty on all 11 counts
UPDATED at 5:04 p.m.
Ronald 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.