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Drue's attorney asks for change of venue
UPDATE: The defense
attorney for Dennis Drue, who is accused of causing the crash that
killed two Shenendehowa High School students and seriously injured two
other teens, has filed for a change of venue for Drue's upcoming trial.
Steve Coffey believes a change in venue would be better to have the case heard in a county with no influence in the case.
The District Attorney has 8 days to respond, but could ask for more time.
Then the Appellate Division can decide.
District Attorney Jim Murphy stated on twitter on Thursday that he opposed the venue change and is confident the county residents would be fair and impartial.
If the venue change is approved, the trial would be rescheduled. If denied, the trial will continue.
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A hearing was held Friday ahead of Dennis Drue's September trial. Drue, 22, is facing 59 charges for causing the December 1, 2012 crash that killed two Shenendehowa High School students and seriously injuring two other teensProsecutors said Drue drank alcohol and smoked marijuana prior to the accident.
Four members of the New York State Police testified during the Huntley hearing about their interaction with Drue. Two troopers said they observed he had "glassy" eyes and showed signs of intoxication. One roadside test found he had a Blood Alcohol Content of .08, equal to the legal limit to drive. A second test found it at .068. Neither test is considered acceptable by court standards, but they can be used by a trooper as an indication to continue their DWI investigation. An EMT testified she smelled alcohol on Drue's breath when she put a collar around his neck. Drue told police he had a one gin and tonic at a restaurant and did not smoke marijuana.
District Attorney Jim Murphy III has previously said the presence of marijuana in Drue's system eliminates the .08 threshold.
Investigator Rodger Kirsopp, who transported Drue to the Saratoga County Jail following his arrest in January, testified Drue used an expletive to describe the arrest and said 'those kids slammed on their brakes. You just need someone to parade around.'
The defense then called Drue to the stand, who claimed all he told Kirsopp was that 'it was an accident.'
"When you look at the outcome of this case and who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose, this is Rodger Kirsopp's job he has no benefit in the outcome of this case, but when you look at the defendant he obviously has a lot to lose," said Murphy.
Defense attorney's also focused on Drue's statement to police when he claimed he hit black ice on the Northway, which caused him to lose control and hit an SUV carrying Chris Stewart, Deanna Rivers, Bailey Wind and Matt Hardy - all 17-years-old. Stewart and Rivers, both Shen seniors, were pronounced dead at the scene. Wind, a Shaker High School Senior from Latham, and Matt, a Shen junior, survived the crash. Drue walked away with minor injuries.
Wind and Stewart were dating at the time. Rivers and Hardy were also a couple. The foursome were on their way home after attending the Albany Cup basketball game between Siena College and the University at Albany.
But Drue's attorney Steve Coffey said no crime was committed and pleaded not guilty to all charges in January. Coffey argues that although blood tests show Drue had alcohol in his system, it is not high enough to be charged with a DUI and he was legally able to drive.
According to family members, Drue's life had been going in a downward spiral since his fathers sudden death in 2003. He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana at 18. Drue also lost his license from February 2009 to January 2010 because of three speeding violations within an 18 month period.
Drue is facing 59 charges, 52 of which are felony charges, including Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Manslaughter, Vehicular assault, Criminally using Drug Paraphernalia, and Driving while under influence of combined substances. If convicted, Drue could spend 25 years in prison.
A judge is expected to rule in the next few weeks if statements made by Drue and his prior record are admissible in the trial, which is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Drue remains free on bail.