Staten Island Advance
April 1, 2004
By REGINALD PATRICK
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
The case of Victor Wilson, the Livingston cop accused of driving drunk while off-duty and fatally injuring a motorcyclist in Brooklyn, was scheduled to go to the jury today.
The prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Wilson, who is assigned to the North Shores 120th Precinct, faces up to seven years behind bars if convicted of negligent homicide and vehicular manslaughter in the death of Stefanos Kiladitis, 21, of Bay Ridge.
Wilson stands accused of running a red light at a Bay Ridge intersection on the night of June 19, 2002, while impaired by alcohol. He was arrested after a Breathalyzer test taken two hours after the crash showed a blood alcohol level of .116, according to the police. The legal limit was .10 at the time.
Defense attorney Todd Greenberg delivered a two-and-a-half-hour summation, raising questions about everything from the reliability of the police blood test to the accuracy of the charge that Wilson had sped through a red light. Greenberg called the deadly crash a tragic accident that didn't warrant a criminal trial.
This is a matter for the Civil Court, not a criminal court, Greenberg insisted. He repeated a charge leveled during the trial that Kiladitis' recklessness and speeding may have caused the crash.
Greenberg noted that one eyewitness, a male model living in Bay Ridge, testified that the Brooklyn motorcycle rider did a "wheelie" and was looking back at his friends and not straight ahead as he sped into the intersection.
Stefanos Kiladitis is a victim here and the members of his family are victims, Greenberg said. And that's sad. But he's an accident victim, and not a victim of a crime. The evidence doesn't show that. It would be equally tragic to convict somebody on these charges.
Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick, in a one-hour summation, countered that the deadly crash was not an unavoidable event. She said Wilson, a 12-year veteran of the NYPD, made a "choice" to get behind the wheel while impaired and then tried to run a red light at the intersection of Fort Hamilton Parkway and 88th Street.
This wasn't an accident in the normal sense of that word, she said. There was a choice to go through with it. Being under the influence of alcohol and passing a red light was a criminally negligent act. A series of choices made the death of Stefanos Kiladitis an inevitability.
Jurors were shown a videotape clip of the accident scene. The force of the impact threw Kiladitis almost 100 feet through the air. When he landed he suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a fractured skull. He died several days later.
Throughout the three-week-plus trial, the prosecution largely pegged its case against Wilson on test results and a blood sample analysis, as well as the testimony of toxicologists concerning the probably amount of alcohol Wilson drank that night. One expert told jurors that Wilson, who had been bowling at a Bay Ridge alley before the crash, could have drunk as many as nine beers that night.
Despite what he described as questionable readings from the Breathalyzer used at the accident scene, Greenberg, in his summation, told jurors that no one at the bowling alley earlier that evening or at the accident scene, including police officers, described Wilson as appearing drunk.
The prosecution is relying on the science of these intoxication tests, Greenberg said. But on the other hand, we have the testimony of people who use their senses to look for signs of intoxication. People who bowled with Victor Wilson. People who came to the accident scene. Police who are trained to determine whether someone has been driving while drunk.
As the summations were delivered, Wilson, wearing a tan suit and black shirt, sat impassively at the defense table, occasionally sipping from a bottle of water.
Kiladitis family and friends filled a row of the courtroom.
Reginald Patrick is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at Patrick@siadvance.com.
Staten Island Advance