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March 3, 2010 - No New Trial for Ex-Trooper in Crash

Retired State Trooper David M. O'Brien's bid for a new trial in a fatal wrong-way crash in Carrollton, New York, last year was denied Monday by a judge who rejected claims that jurors improperly talked to one of the rescue workers during a break in the trial.

Following a two-week trial in Little Valley, a jury convicted O'- Brien, 69, on June 9 of vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor drunken driving for slamming into Wendy J. Karnes' car while driving the wrong way on Route 219 at about 10:35 p.m. on April 26, 2008.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. sentenced O'- Brien to one to seven years in prison, but he has been free on appeal bail since Sept. 11 under a stay of sentence granted by Appellate Justice Jerome C. Gorski.

Monday, defense attorney Edward C. Cosgrove sought a new trial, arguing that Lucinda Clancey, one of the Limestone volunteer firefighters who came to the crash scene, improperly talked to jurors Sharon Neubauer and Brittani Jones and forewoman Tenna Wright during a smoking break in the trial last June 3.

Clancey on Monday denied coming within 10 feet of any of the jurors during that break outside the courthouse, Cosgrove said, while Wright said she didn't recall that day's events, and both Neubauer and Jones denied talking to Clancey during that break.

Though Cosgrove called to the stand Cuba lawyer Karen Perrigo and Catherine Fraser, a former Olean General Hospital official, who said they saw Clancey talking to the jurors, he said the judge accepted the denials of Clancey and the jurors. The judge also denied Cosgrove's bid for testimony from five others he claims observed Clancey talking to jurors during the trial despite court admonitions against such activity.

Cosgrove, citing "the canyon of difference" between what Clancey and the jurors claim and what his two witnesses said, vowed to raise the issue of alleged "misconduct of jurors" and Kloch's ruling at an appellate court hearing in late May.

O'Brien, after a 26-year career with the State Police, was working as an enforcement officer for the State Racing and Wagering Commission at a Salamanca casino at the time of the crash. Karnes, 38, of Bradford, Pa., worked as a cashier at that same casino.

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