Jurors didn’t reach a verdict Tuesday after they began deliberations in the aggravated vehicular homicide trial of an Oakdale man charged with causing a Nassau County police officer’s death.
The Mineola panel deliberated for about 90 minutes in the trial of James Ryan, 28, who prosecutors contend turned the Long Island Expressway “into his own drunken speedway” on Oct. 18, 2012, setting off a chain of events that caused Officer Joseph Olivieri Jr.’s death.
Jurors asked to see evidence photos, to have the statute on the top criminal count against Ryan explained again, and to have most of the testimony of witness Edward Wilson read back. They also asked which charges relate to whether Wilson suffered serious physical injury.
Prosecutors have alleged Ryan got drunk at a Manhattan lounge before speeding on the LIE and crashing into a BMW. They contend he then kept driving before slamming on his Toyota Camry’s brakes and causing Wilson, an off-duty NYPD detective, to rear-end his car.
Testimony has shown Olivieri responded to an accident call near exit 35 in North Hills and crossed LIE lanes on foot to reach Ryan’s car. The veteran highway patrolman was then struck and fatally injured by a different motorist, Francis Belizaire, 50, of Bay Shore. Prosecutors decided Belizaire’s actions weren’t criminal and he got immunity after testifying before a grand jury.
The defense has conceded Ryan was driving drunk and caused the first crash, but claims Wilson caused the second crash and that Belizaire is solely responsible for Olivieri’s death.
“How is it going? It’s hard to say … I guess there’s at least some question as to whether or not Wilson suffered serious physical injury,” defense attorney Marc Gann said Tuesday.
Gann said if the jury decided Wilson didn’t suffer serious physical injury, the top count that jurors could find Ryan guilty of would be manslaughter. That is because Wilson’s condition is an element of the highest charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Prosecutors declined to comment Tuesday. Deliberations are scheduled to continue Wednesday.