BATH, NY (WETM) – Testimony resumed Wednesday in Steuben County court in the trial of Dustin Drake, the man charged in an alleged drunk driving crash that left four people dead in Pulteney more than 3 years ago.
Defense attorney Ray Schlather attempted to raise more doubts about whether Mr. Drake was the person behind the wheel of a Dodge Caliber when it slammed into a tree on County Route 76 in Pulteney, just after 1am on October 12, 2019. The impact killed 28 year old Korbie Higgins, 26 year old Coy F. Miner Jr., 25 year old Nicole Wise, and 29 year old Adam Bellamy.
A New York State police forensic scientist specializing in toxicology took the stand Wednesday. She testified Mr. Drake’s blood alcohol level was .21, which is nearly 3 times the legal limit. In cross examination, Defense attorney Schlather noted the other 4 occupants of the vehicle also had blood alcohol levels that were significantly higher than the legal limit. Citing toxicology results, Schlather stated the blood alcohol levels of the other occupants in the vehicle were .23, .21, .16 and .11. The toxicology expert testified that no individual with those blood alcohol levels would able to safely operate a motor vehicle.
An evidence technician who worked the scene also took the stand. The technician testified he decided to not dust any physical evidence for fingerprints. He was not asked why. However, the technician also testified that he performed several DNA swabs on parts of the vehicle, including the driver’s side airbag, exterior and interior driver’s side door handles, and the steering wheel. The technician testified the decision to submit those swabs to the state crime lab and perform a follow up is the responsibility of the lead investigator assigned to the case.
After coming back from lunch recess, Judge Chauncey Watches announced he had just kicked out a third person from the courtroom who was sitting in the gallery for making comments during the trial. He did not say who he was referring to or what the comments were, but added this was his final warning to anyone sitting in the courtroom.
Drake faces 15 counts, including 4 counts of second degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide, and felony DWI. The DWI charge was raised to a felony because Drake had a previous DWI conviction within the past 10 years.
Testimony resumes Thursday at 9:30 am.