STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
Tuesday, March 9, 2004
By: SAM DOLNICK
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a Livingston police officer accused of killing a Brooklyn motorcyclist while driving drunk in June 2002.
Officer Victor Wilson, then assigned to the North Shore's 120th Precinct, is accused of running a red light while intoxicated on the night of June 19, 2002, and killing Stefanos Kiladitis, 21, of Bay Ridge, who was riding his motorcycle on the night.
Attorneys for both sides vetted a pool of more than 50 potential jurors yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court and selected eight people Ð five women and three men Ð to serve. The remaining jurors will be selected tomorrow morning and the trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow afternoon.
Wilson, of Davis Court, was alone and off-duty when he allegedly plowed his 1995 Chrysler Cirrus into Kiladitis' motorcycle on Forth Hamilton Parkway.
Wilson pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in August 2002. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted at trial.
While testimony isn't scheduled to begin until tomorrow afternoon, both the prosecution and the defense outlined their arguments yesterday.
Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick told potential jurors Wilson may not have been "falling-down drunk", but that he was legally intoxicated and she would bring experts to testify to that. The prosecution would rely heavily on "science testimony", she added, a reference to sobriety test results.
Wilson's blood alcohol level was .11 percent, slightly over the .10 percent limit which was legal at the time. A sobriety test was taken about 90 minutes after the crash, authorities said.
Wilson's lawyer, Todd Greenberg, conceded his client had beer to drink that night, but vigorously denied that Wilson had been intoxicated and suggested he would contest the expert testimony and the sobriety tests.
Greenberg said he planned to introduce to the jury several people who came into contact with Wilson the night of the accident and who will testify that he was not drunk.
Greenberg told the pool of potential jurors that the accident was caused by Kiladitis, whom he said was speeding and not paying attention to the road when he was allegedly hit by Wilson.
The accident occurred less than a year after a Staten Island police officer struck and killed three members of a Brooklyn family, including a pregnant woman whose baby died 13 hours after being delivered by emergency Caesarean section.
Ex-cop Joseph Gray, a Mariners Harbor resident, is serving a 15-year prison sentence after his conviction on second-degree manslaughter charges for the Aug. 4 crash, which took place only blocks away from where Kiladitis was hit.
After the Gray case, the Police Department issued a new policy, stating any cop convicted in a drunk-driving accident in which someone is injured will be fired. If he is convicted, Wilson would be fired under the new rule.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Petrosino is also prosecuting the case, which is being argued before Justice Anne G. Feldman.
Sam Dolnick is a news reporter for the Advance, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.