Firm News - Jury Trial ends in Acquittal

This week, Richard and I tried a three-day Negligent Homicide jury trial in Hillsborough-South Superior Court. On Wednesday, after one hour deliberation, the jury came back NOT GUILTY.

State Originally Charged Client with Manslaughter

When this case began, the State indicted the client for Manslaughter, an even more serious felony which carried a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison. Prior to trial, Richard Guerriero litigated motions to dismiss and to exclude unreliable aspects of the prosecution's investigation. After the judge granted a key motion to exclude evidence, the State decided to dismiss the Manslaughter charge and go forward only with a new indictment for Negligent Homicide.

Tree Blocked Driver's View of Traffic Signals

At trial, as you can read in the press coverage, the evidence showed that a large tree obscured the driver's view of the traffic signal, until it was too late to react safely. The State's failure to cut down this tree resulted in a tragedy. The jury decided that our client should not be held criminally responsible for the accident. Here is newspaper coverage that shows a picture of how the tree blocked the driver's view of the traffic signal: 2015-10-Witty-VN coverage with tree picture. And here's the picture of the tree that the jury saw. If you can see the orange truck on the right, that is where the stop line is for the traffic signal. The traffic signal itself is invisible, hidden behind the tree branches.


Two weeks after the accident, the State Dept. of Transportation cut the tree down.

Defense Excluded Misleading Surveillance Video

The prosecution's case had initially been based on a surveillance video from a nearby business. The video did not show that the tree blocked the traffic signal. In addition, the video was misleading about as far as it's depictions of time and distance. The trial judge agreed with Richard's motion and excluded that video from trial (still photos from the video were allowed).

Read the Newspaper Accounts of the Trial

The case was widely reported. Here is detailed coverage of the verdict in the Valley News:2015-11-10-Witty-VN coverage of acquittal

The Union Leader also reported on the jury's acquittal of our client. 2015-11-10-Witty-UL coverage jury acquittal