Charnetski bench trial closing arguments slated for Monday

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Caden Charnetski’s bench trial is inching towards closing arguments, which is slated for Monday morning. Judge Richard Rich said he will deliberate a verdict within a day or two after.

Charnetski, 19, is blamed for driving a car under the influence of marijuana and crashing into a motorcycle, killing Matthew and Harolyn Matteson on July 10, 2018.

In court on the ninth day of the bench trial, Dr. Ahmed Nour, a resident physician at Arnot Ogden, was the last witness to take the stand.

Dr. Nour attended to Charnetski at the hospital shortly after the accident. He confirmed Charnetski did not show signs of impairment by Marijuana at the time of the health exams.

After the defense rested their case, Charnetski waived his right to testify.

Defense attorney, Ray Schlather, then filed a motion to dismiss the case for the second time this bench trial.

Judge Richard Rich denied the motion. He said filing this motion is typical in cases like this because it allows the defense an opportunity to appeal the final verdict in the future.

The defense’s motion to dismiss was supported by their belief that there are 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 last July, shortly after the accident.

On Friday, both parties and the judge will discuss whether or not to use a Virginia Beach study in regards to the effects of marijuana.

Court remains adjourned from Thursday afternoon to Monday at 9 a.m. when closing arguments commence.

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