After a two-and-a-half-week trial, a Prattsburgh man charged with two felonies in connection with a fatal accident on Aug. 8, 2012 was acquitted.
Troy A. Daggett, 25, was charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide after a one-car accident killed a Branchport man in the Town of Pultney.
Defense Attorney Ray Schlather, of Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk of Ithaca, said the jury did not believe Daggett was driving the car.
“They determined Daggett was not guilty,” Schlather said. “You had two best friends, both had been drinking, both had been smoking marijuana. There’s a one-car crash, both ended up outside the vehicle, one person died, the other person lived.”
Mathew Stewart, 24, of Branchport, was killed in the wreck, and Daggett was injured.
“Daggett was very badly injured and the jury had to decide who was the driver,” Schlather said. “And they decided Daggett was not the driver.”
Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said Daggett was found not guilty because the jury couldn’t find beyond a reasonable doubt that Daggett was driving the car.
“There was essentially no physical evidence in the car as to who the operator was,” Baker said. “There was no physical evidence linking either one to driving the car and there was no eye witness to either one driving the car.”
Baker said it was very difficult for the jury to determine who drove Daggett’s car.
“They spent two days deliberating and they found that they could not find the defendant guilty,” Baker said.
The trial was held at Steuben County Court in front of Judge Joseph Latham. The proceedings began Sept. 18 and ended Oct. 3.
Schlather said given that Daggett’s reputation was “besmirched” when he was indicted, his exoneration should not go unnoticed.
“Daggett and his family are relieved that the full story finally has been told,” Schlather said.
Baker said the jury only decided Daggett was not guilty.
“He wasn’t found innocent,” Baker said. “No jury ever finds anyone innocent. He was just found not guilty.”