ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The appeal for Caden Charnetski, who was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the 2018 deaths of Matthew and Harolyn Matteson, will be heard on September 16, 2020, according to the appellate court calendars.
In August 2019 Charnetski was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison with a “youthful offender ” status after Matteson’s were ejected from a motorcycle following a colliding head-on accident with Charnetski’s car on Westinghouse Road in Horseheads on July 10, 2018.
Following his sentencing, he was released on $25,000 cash/$50,000 property bond and has remained free ever since after COVID-19 delayed the court system.
Law enforcement testified that Charnetski and two passengers had been smoking marijuana at Tanglewood Nature Center and Arnot Mall prior to the accident. Passengers also said Charnetski was driving erratically prior to the crash.
Police said the smell of marijuana was evident at the scene as well as a sandwich bag of marijuana.
Charnetski previously waived his right to testify during the bench trial.
Dr. Ahmed Nour, a resident physician at Arnot Ogden, attended to Charnetski at the hospital shortly after the accident. He confirmed on the trial’s ninth day that Charnetski did not show signs of impairment by Marijuana at the time of the health exams.
Defense Attorney Ray Schlather filed a motion to dismiss the case twice during the bench trial. He said there were other reasonable explanations, other than marijuana, that caused the accident.
One included the motorcycle’s speed, which the defense said mathematical calculations determined it traveled at 63 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone.
Another factor the defense mentioned was the youthful and inexperienced driving skills of then 18-year-old Charnetski. They also said the busyness of the street that day showed a slight topography issue with road conditions.
Prosecution attorney, Weeden Wetmore, rebutted saying the speed of the motorcycle does not exonerate Charnetski’s fault of failing to yield the right of way.
Schlather also pointed out a preservation issue with the Matteson’s motorcycle in which he asked for sanctions on the prosecution for evidence tampering.
He said scuff marks and paint transfers on the Harley-Davidson from original scene photos were no longer visible because the Horseheads Police Departments did not thoroughly preserve the evidence at the impound lot.
Wetmore said he doesn’t think there should be sanctions.
The judge said there was no letter requesting to store and protect the motorcycle nor did Schlather request to do so after examining it in July shortly after the accident.