Caden Charnetski’s verdict to come down Tuesday afternoon


Closing arguments wrapped up an extensive bench trial for 19-year-old Caden Charnetski as Judge Richard Rich expects to render a verdict at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Charnetski’s defense team has been fighting for his innocence for the past ten days of the bench trial.

He is pleading not guilty for vehicular manslaughter after being blamed for driving under the influence of marijuana and causing an accident, killing Matthew and Harolyn Matteson, in July 2018.

During closing arguments, Monday, defense attorney, Ray Schlather, said three points need to be considered in Judge Rich’s ruling.

The first of these points included the lack of solid evidence to confirm the exact amount of marijuana Charnetski ingested the day of the accident.

The next point was impairment.

Schlather said evidence, like surveillance video at a gas station about 10 minutes prior to the crash and testimonies from doctors, first responders and police, suggest Charnetski was not impaired from marijuana.

The last of these points was forseeability.

Schlather said according to witness testimonies along with mathematical and scientific calculations, the Matteson’s were allegedly speeding between 60 and 65 miles per hour.

The defense’s argument was that with a speed allegedly that fast, it would’ve been difficult to spot the black motorcycle prior to the crash.

Schlather also asked for the judge to give Charnetski the benefit of the doubt in the case of any ambiguity or uncertainty in reviewing evidence.

Prosecution attorney Weeden Wetmore said the defense is blaming a number of factors such as road conditions, Charnetski’s inexperience and motorcycle speed, veering responsibility onto the victims.

Wetmore claimed the ultimate cause of the crash was Charnetski’s failure to yield the right of way when making the left turn from Westlake Street to Westinghouse Road in Horseheads.

The prosecution blamed Charnetski’s impairment of marijuana for the failure to make that conscious decision.

Wetmore then tried debunking the previous testimony of Cornell University science professor, Dr. Stuart Phoenix, in regards to the Matteson’s motorcycle speed.

He said Dr. Phoenix was not at the scene of the crash and is not an accident reconstructionist.

The prosecution held their ground that New York State Police Investigator David Bly’s expert testimony on accident reconstruction was more viable in concluding the motorcycle’s speed was below the 40 mph limit.

Wetmore also said the Matteson’s had no reason to speed because they weren’t in a rush to arrive at the concert they planned to attend in Canandaigua that evening.

The prosecution closed out concluding that Charnetski must take responsibility for allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana and causing the deadly collision.

The court was adjourned Monday afternoon after the conclusion of closing arguments.

Judge Rich will come down with a verdict at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the Chemung County Courthouse.

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