Staten Island Advance
Panel gets read-back of statement by motorcyclist who accompanied victim allegedly hit by officer
Friday, April 2, 2004
By Reginald Patrick Advance Staff Writer
In its first full day of deliberations yesterday, the jury in the trial of an off-duty Staten Island cop charged with fatally injuring a Brooklyn motorcyclist while driving drunk reviewed the testimony of a key eyewitness to the fatal crash.
The panel requested a read-back of the testimony of Thomas Blanchette, 22, of Bay Ridge, one of two other motorcyclists accompanying the victim, Stefanos Kiladitis, 21, also of Bay Ridge, when Kiladitis was struck at the intersection of 88th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway on the night of June 19, 2002.
Blanchette, the first witness called to the stand, said Kiladitis, who was headed up the parkway, had a green light and was set to motor through the intersection when the car driven by Victor Wilson of Livingston, a 12 year NYPD veteran assigned to the 120th Precinct, shot in front of the motorcyclist.
"He just came right in front of Steve," Blanchette testified, "He was there in a split second." The collision sent Kiladitis flying through the air, landing about 30 feet from his Yamaha motorcycle, the witness said.
"I ran to Mr. Wilson's car and I was screaming, "You ran a red light, what's wrong with you?" Blanchette said. He said Wilson didn't appear to be drunk, but did seem dazed and uncommunicative. Kiladitis lay in the street, gasping for air and bleeding from the nose and ears, Blanchette said. He died three days later.
Wilson faces up to seven years behind bars on charges of criminally negligent homicide and vehicular manslaughter. Drunken driving charges have also been leveled against him. He was arrested after a Breathalyzer test taken about two hours after the accident showed a blood alcohol level of .116, according to police. The legal limit was .10 at the time.
Jurors yesterday also asked to see a prosecution videotape showing the timing of the traffic lights along the section of Fort Hamilton Parkway where the crash occurred and reviewed the testimony of a city Department of Transportation official with the signal division, outlining how the lights in the area are timed.
Todd Greenberg, Wilson's lawyer, maintains the traffic light on 88th Street was not red when his client entered the intersection at Fort Hamilton Parkway.
He has also stressed that witnesses at the accident scene and at the Bay Ridge bowling alley where Wilson had been earlier in the evening said the off-duty cop didn't appear to be intoxicated, though he conceded his client had consumed some beer that night.
Greenberg said Kiladitis triggered the accident by driving recklessly and speeding on the parkway.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution was willing yesterday to speculate on which way the jury was leaning, based on the read-backs requested.
"It's hard to predict what it all means," Greenberg said. "But it does show this jury is attentive to the issues."
Deliberations continue today.
Reginald Patrick is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Staten Island Advance