QUEENSBURY — In the end, the charge that gave the jury in the Alexander West case the hardest time was not the weightiest charge, but was the least serious homicide count in the indictment.
Two jurors said the panel struggled the most with criminally negligent homicide, the least weighty felony charge in the indictment, as it waded through the 12-count indictment against West.
They also had a hard time with the legal definitions of “recklessness” and “impaired,” although they ultimately decided the evidence against West met the standard for both. “One or two” jurors initially struggled, but after hearing read-backs of testimony and the law, they all agreed on a split verdict.
Juror Steve DeJesus of Queensbury called Monday’s convictions of West a “hollow victory” for the family of 8-year-old Charlotte McCue, who was killed in the collision on Lake George last July 25.
In the end, jurors knew how closely the community was following the trial, but “had to keep our personal opinions out of it.”
“We wanted to make our decisions on the evidence. It was very important to us. That’s why we took our time,” DeJesus said. “We were ready to go two or three more days if we had to.”
DeJesus also said that Cara Mia Canale, a friend of West’s who was on the boat that day and testified against him despite acknowledging significant drug issues, “was just as credible as any other witness.”
Another male juror, who did not give his name, agreed that the panel was prepared to stay as long as needed to get it right.
“We wanted to make sure we gave Alex a fair trial,” he said.
The juror said the panel quickly concluded that West was guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.
“There was no way that he didn’t know someone was hurt after that happened,” he said.
The man said jurors met with Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan after the verdict, and were surprised but heartened to hear about the evidence that wasn’t brought forward at trial.
Specifically, the drug test results that were withdrawn from the case because of a legal issue related to the search warrant application would have had a large bearing on the vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault counts, he said. That made him feel comfortable that the jury had done the right thing.
“Luckily, we had the alcohol (evidence) to go on,” he said.
Specifically, he said the testimony about West having two Moscow Mule mixed drinks at The Huddle restaurant shortly before the collision was most damning.