Ithaca, N.Y. — The prosecution and defense attorneys made their closing arguments in Tompkins County Court Tuesday morning in the manslaughter case of 19-year-old James Crosby, who is accused in the crash deaths of two Spencer residents.
After the closing arguments, Judge Rowley said he expects to be able to render a verdict tomorrow morning.
What the prosecution said
Tompkins County Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski responded to defense attorney Joseph Joch’s closing argument by attacking the expert witness produced by the defense team.
Joch argued that state police had reverse engineered a speed to fit their analysis that Crosby was recklessly driving when he caused the death of his best friend and a Spencer resident.
Filipowski said it was in fact the defense attorney and a paid expert witness who had to defy common sense to conclude that Crosby was not out-of-control on the roadway when the accident occurred.
She used that phrase — “common sense” — repeatedly throughout her closing statement.
She said it defied explanation that the car struck by Crosby could be going 25 mph on a 55 mph road. (The defense’s speed estimates for Crosby hinges on this low estimate of the other car’s speed, she said.)
“A huge snowstorm, maybe kids crossing, maybe deer coming into play” could cause someone to drive that slowly, she said. “But that wasn’t the testimony. The testimony was that (the other driver) wouldn’t be going 25 miles per hour. She wouldn’t be crawling on a highway.”
Common sense, Filipowski said, “dictates that (Crosby’s car) was in the range of 84 miles per hour to 91 miles per hour.”
She also admonished the defense attorney’s forensic consultant William Fischer for, she said not disclosing that he hadn’t been certified for several years.
“He perpetuated a fraud upon this court,” she said of forensic consultant William C. Fischer. “He perpetuated a fraud upon me.”
Mirroring a technique used by the defense, she imagined a conversation between the defense attorney and the witness as going something like: “For $12,000, I’ll get you to 55 miles per hour.”
Toward the end of her argument, Filipowski highlighted that a friend of the same age had called Crosby’s passenger to urge him to slow down.
“This is where common sense comes into play,” she said.
Do you think, she said, that a friend would have called to say, “Hey guys quit driving like fucking retards … do you think he would have bothered if it was, ‘Oh, he’s just driving a little fast?’” It’s not as if an 85-year-old aunt had called to admonish him, Filipowski said.
“Common sense,” she said. “…All of the testimony corroborates the other.”
“…The people have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that James Crosby committed manslaughter in the second degree.”