SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A Ballston man is facing a pair of felony charges in connection with a fatal hit-and-run incident that occurred in downtown Saratoga Springs last week, an incident his lawyer said Thursday was provoked by a brutal attack on his client.
Travis M. Carroll, 23, of 43 Charlton Road, was arraigned in Saratoga Springs City Court Wednesday night, where he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and tampering with evidence.
Police said they filed the charges because they believe Carroll hit Ryan Rossley with his car while pulling out of a Henry Street parking lot and then later tried to conceal evidence of the incident by removing the windshield from his vehicle.
"Mr. Rossley was not struck by a car that just happened to be driving down the street," said police Chief Christopher Cole during a news conference to announce the charges on Thursday.
Rossley, 27, of Saratoga Springs, died at around 6 p.m. on March 18 at the Albany Medical Center from injuries suffered in the collision, which police said occurred at around 4:30 a.m. as downtown bars were closing after a night of St. Patrick's Day revelry.
Carrroll's attorney, Gerard Amedio, said his client was fleeing the parking lot in a panic, afraid for his life after being physically beaten by a group of five to seven men, including Rossley.
Amedio said Carroll, acting as a designated driver, had picked up his father and a friend and was driving down Caroline Street when he first encountered the group of men. The men were blocking the road, so Carroll honked, evoking yells and cursing from the group, Amedio said.
Carroll then parked his car at the Henry Street parking lot, just east of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, got out and encountered the group again, Amedio said.
Amedio said Carroll was not getting out to confront the men, but he was attacked with a belt, threatened with a knife and left severely bruised.
When Carroll got back into his car, according to Amedio's account, Rossley jumped in front of the vehicle and was hit. Carroll said Rossley appeared to be moving and uninjured after the impact, according to Amedio.
"He was in fear of his life, and he was just trying to get out," said Amedio.
Police said they could not verify Amedio's version of events and stressed that they are still investigating the incident. More than 70 people have been interviewed, police said, and more charges are possible.
Police are confident, however, that Carroll drove to his Ballston home after the collision and that, around eight hours later, he removed a damaged windshield from his vehicle, a 2002 Nissan Maxima that fit the description of a vehicle being sought by police.
Police discovered Carroll's vehicle on Friday in Saratoga County.
Amedio also said Carroll removed the windshield from his car so his child would not see and be disturbed by the damage, and that he never intended to hide it from police.
"He didn't destroy it; he just put it aside," Amedio said.
Amedio said he was contacted by Carroll Thursday night - shortly after Carroll learned that Rossley died - to turn himself in.
"He's very emotional, and he feels horrible," Amedio said.
Carroll, who recently moved to the area from Oregon, said nothing during his court appearance Thursday morning and did not address reporters as he was later placed in a police vehicle to be taken back to the Saratoga County Jail.
He is being held without bail and is scheduled to return to City Court on April 13.
Carroll faces up to 11 years in state prison if he's convicted on both charges.
Authorities said the case is likely to go to a grand jury where the charges may be amended, however.
Saratoga Springs reporter Thomas Dimopoulos contributed to this report.