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July 1, 2019 - 4:02pm

DA and Serrano defense attorney butt heads over rebuttal evidence in fatal Darien hit-and-run trial

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and defense attorney Frank LoTempio faced off during oral arguments this morning over the admission of rebuttal witness testimony during the trial of alleged drunk driver Jennifer Serrano. 

Friedman intends to call accident reconstructionists James Orr and Jon Northrup to testify to their perspectives of the location of a deadly impact between Serrano’s vehicle and 18-year-old pedestrian Connor Lynskey. Serrano and Lynskey were both traveling along Sumner Road after a concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center last August at the time of the collision.

Friedman argued that evidence introduced earlier in the trial will yield different interpretations from those offered by witnesses such as Sgt. Jason Saile and Thomas C. Onions, an accident reconstruction expert.

The three main topics of debate are the speed of Serrano’s vehicle, the visibility on Sumner Road, and the location of vehicle-pedestrian impact. The rebuttal witnesses are also expected to weigh in on a photograph of what is purported to be Lynksey’s footprint in the gravel shoulder of the road.

LoTempio said that the district attorney failed to present Orr and Northrup as witnesses in a timely manner when he filed a motion for demand of discovery months ago. The discovery demand allows the People and the defendant to get an idea of the evidence that will be used against them during the trial.

LoTempio also claimed that the People’s rebuttal witnesses would be prejudicial to Serrano because defense expert Onions may not have the opportunity to respond to the alternate interpretations since he is currently out of the area.

During banter between Friedman and LoTempio, LoTempio let out an incredulous laugh when Friedman countered his arguments about mistrial, discovery demand and rebuttal witnesses. 

LoTempio said that the location of the impact is an element of causation that jurors should consider in their deliberations since Serrano is charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

Judge Charles Zambito said that knowing the exact location of Lynskey at the time he was struck is not necessary for the jury to reach its verdict. After a recess, Zambito rendered the decision that the defense’s motion for a mistrial is denied and that it will be appropriate for the People to rebut with expert testimony from Orr and Northrup. 

The fifth day of the Serrano trial continues this afternoon in Genesee County Court.

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