Cavaliere found not guilty of vehicular homicide
September 21, 2018
A jury on Friday cleared David Cavaliere of vehicular homicide charges stemming from an accident in Silt last year that killed two motorcyclists.
Cavaliere, 37, was found not guilty by the 12-person jury following a week-long trial in 9th District Court in Glenwood Springs. The jury reached a unanimous verdict after a few hours of deliberation on Friday following the conclusion of closing arguments
The jury did find him guilty of careless driving resulting in death for the deaths of Eduaro Medrano, 21, and Nathan Russo, 22, who died in the March 20, 2017 crash. Cavaliere's sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month.
Since the trial began Sept. 13, prosecutors with the 9th District Attorney's Office accused Cavaliere of driving recklessly before the crash. The defense had stated that, while the incident was a terrible accident, it was not homicide.
In their closing arguments, the prosecutors argued that evidence and witness testimony proved that Cavaliere operated the vehicle in a reckless manner causing the deaths of the two men.
Under Colorado law, to be convicted of reckless vehicular homicide, the prosecution must prove that you drove recklessly and your driving was the proximate cause of another person's death. A person is considered to be acting recklessly when he or she consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
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The prosecution refuted Cavaliere's claims that he did not see the motorcycle riders, because "nothing obstructed his opportunity to see the bikers," Deputy DA Brian Litzinger said in trying to sway the jury.
"The fact is he did see them …," Litzinger argued. "He made a reckless choice and that choice cost the lives of two men."
Litzinger reminded the jury of evidence that Cavaliere tried to "scare Russo and Medrano," and "wanted to teach them a lesson," according to witness testimony from Joseph Lewis.
However, the defense team questioned Lewis' testimony in their closing argument and said his statements contradicted what three expert witnesses said.
All three expert witnesses agreed it was not reckless driving, Cavaliere's attorney Molly Owens argued.
She explained that Lewis' allegations were complete nonsense when compared with the evidence of the case, and said he was not a credible witness. Owens said the crash was an ordinary mistake that resulted in extraordinary tragedy.
Owens reminded the jury that conscious disregard is what is required to convict, and that's not what the evidence supported, she said.
Cavaliere was initially facing a misdemeanor charge of careless driving causing death when he was first arrested. Prosecutors later filed the felony vehicular homicide charges based on further investigation.
District Judge James Boyd, defense and prosecution agreed to hold the sentencing hearing at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 23.