A jury Friday acquitted a Long Island musician of manslaughter in his girlfriend’s death, sparking an outpouring in which he declared his love for her and called what happened “nothing more than an accident.”
Robert Savinetti, 58, of Melville, had been facing up to 15 years in prison on the top charge against him in the August 2017 motor vehicle death of Lisa Miceli, 44, outside a Seaford restaurant.
Jurors also found Savinetti not guilty of criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the Aug. 1, 2017, crash. They convicted him of a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment for which he faces up to a year in jail.
“I want to thank the jury. I want to thank the judge,” Savinetti said in a breathless voice in an interview shortly after the verdict, before adding: “And, I still love you Lisa.”
Savinetti also briefly spoke of the fatal encounter, saying: “This was an accident, nothing more than an accident.”
Prosecutors had alleged the musician, from the cover band Copy Cat, treated his live-in girlfriend like “roadkill” by running her over with his Toyota RAV4 and leaving her in the street to die after an argument at Cardoon Mediterranean restaurant about her smoking habit.
But defense attorney Marc Gann had contended Miceli was to blame for her own death after she ran alongside the moving Toyota while drunk and in flip flops, before tripping and falling under the vehicle.
Gann argued during the trial his client didn’t know he had run over Miceli, and came back to the scene when the restaurant owner called to tell him to return because the woman was badly hurt in the street.
The Nassau district attorney’s office had argued Miceli was holding onto the Toyota's door handle, banging on the vehicle to be let inside, when Savinetti stepped on the gas.
Prosecutors had alleged further that Savinetti then sped up, and Miceli lost her grip and was pulled under the Toyota. They said he knew the vehicle crushed her 115-pound body but he drove away.
Jurors never heard that tests showed Savinetti’s blood alcohol concentration that night had been at 0.12 percent or slightly higher — above the 0.08 percent legal threshold for intoxication.
State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti tossed that and other evidence before the trial, citing missteps in the police investigation.
The jury foreman said in an interview after the verdict that “the blame fell on both sides enough that the manslaughter charge was just not the right one.”
The 25-year-old Roslyn resident, who declined to give his name, also added of Savinetti's actions: “Nothing in the evidence pointed to the fact that this was the outcome that he had wanted to happen.”
The foreman, when told of Savinetti’s test results, said that evidence “wasn’t admissible” and he wouldn’t comment on it.
Gann said he felt the case “always belonged more in the civil realm,” and that he would ask for probation for Savinetti at his March 15 sentencing.
Of the jury, Gann added: “They listened to the evidence, they evaluated the evidence, and they came to what they believed to be a reasonable conclusion.”
Prosecutors declined to comment Friday.