Chris Caya

Reporter

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A state lawmaker from Elma is calling for changes to the current DW I hit-and-run law. 

Senator Patrick Gallivan is proposing a new bill in the wake of last week's verdict in Dr. James Corasanti's vehicular manslaughter trial.  Gallivan said under his proposal a drunk driver who fails to stop would have no excuse for "not knowing they hit a person."

Corasanti was acquitted of serious charges for the hit-and-run death of Alexandra Rice.

Google Map, street view photo

Along with a dispute with New York State over alleged violations of its casino compact, the Seneca Nation of Indians is now questioning the safety of state bridges and highways on the Nation's territories. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo was denying reports yesterday that his effort to expand casino gaming across New York was influenced by $2 million in donations to a lobbying group created to support him. 

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The removal of an eyesore along the I-190 downtown is complete.

The steel frame for the original Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Hotel complex has been completely removed and work on a smaller casino is expected to get underway soon.

In the meantime, Seneca Gaming Corporation today awarded nearly $1 million in grants for neighborhood improvements near their casino at Michigan Avenue and Perry Street. 

The Canadian Consulate's Visa and Immigration section in Buffalo is now closed.  Visa services have been transferred to other offices across the country ahead of the consulate's closing at the end of August. 

Members of the Western New York Congressional delegation sent a letter to Prime Minister Steven Harper last week urging him to reconsider the cost-cutting move.  Rep. Kathy Hochul says given all the commerce that crosses the region's international bridges, the consulate is important.  

Among the region's 98 school districts,  Sweet Home tops Business First's ratings for teacher pay. 

Projects Editor Scott Thomas says the rankings are based on five different levels of a teacher's career ,  including peak pay  which in Sweet Home is $97, 567.

 "We've got Sweet Home running number one. Williamsville number two.   Both, obviously, suburban districts," Thomas said.

Chris Caya/WBFO

Several local members of the state delegation are pushing for swift passage of the cyber-bullying law currently pending in Albany. 

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer says the bill came about after bullying victim Jamie Rodemeyer, a Williamsville teenager, committed suicide last September. 

Ranzenhofer says the issue pervades the entire state and he is challenging Governor Cuomo to "get on board."   The Amherst Republican says the updated bill defines the law and aids police how to handle alleged cases of cyber-bullying.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Alexandria Rice's father Richard and her mother Tammy Schueler say they are "unhappy, shocked, dissatisfied [and] disappointed" with the verdict against the man who struck and killed their daughter. 

Dr. James Corasanti was acquitted Wednesday of the most serious charges in the hit-and-run death of 18-year old Rice.  The jurors cleared Corasanti on two manslaughter charges as well as tampering with evidence and leavening the scene of an accident without reporting, resulting in death.  Corasanti was only found guilty on a DWI charge.

Chris Caya/WBFO

The Buffalo Police Department has fired one of its own after an arrest this morning by federal law enforcement officials. 

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said former police officer Jorge Melendez, 41, is charged with running a drug manufacturing business out of two warehouses in South Buffalo. Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI arrested Melendez at Police Headquarters. 

WBFO News by Mike Desmond

An Erie County Court  jury has found Dr. James Corasanti not guilty on all of the major charges against him in the death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

Jurors returned to the courtroom just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to issue their verdict.

The jury acquitted the 56-year-old Corasanti on second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, resulting death, and tampering with physical evidence.  

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Jury deliberations will resume at 9:30 Wednesday morning in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

The defense rested its case late Tuesday in the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

Closing arguments are slated for next Tuesday, May 29. A standard defense motion to dismiss the case was denied by Judge Sheila DiTullio.

In testimony Tuesday, an accident reconstruction consultant testified Corasanti wasn't driving as fast as police estimated the night he struck and killed Alexandria Rice, and that Rice was half-way out of the bike lane at the time.

The trial of Dr. James Corasanti enters its 16th day in Erie County Court today.

Corasanti finished testifying early Monday afternoon and then the jury heard a defense witness pick apart the results of Corasanti's blood test.  

For Corasanti's second day on the stand, Alexandria Rice's father sat in his usual front row seat in the gallery wearing a neon green shirt that appeared close in color to the top Rice had on the night she was struck and killed by Corasanti's vehicle.  

 Dr. James Corasanti was called to the witness stand Friday morning in his vehicular manslaughter for the fatal hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

Defense Attorney Joel Daniels called Corasanti to testify in day 14 of the trial in Erie County Court. The courtroom was packed in anticipation of Corasanti taking the stand.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

A defense request to dismiss all charges against Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst was denied Thursday.  Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio denied the request by defense attorney Joel Daniels, who was seeking to have all five charges against the Amherst doctor dropped. 

The prosecution rested its case late Thursday morning after calling its 37th witness to the stand. Corasanti is accused in the fatal hit-and-run of Alexandria Rice last July while she was riding on her longboard on Heim Road.  

WBFO News file photo

The investigator who reconstructed the scene where 18-year-old Alexandria Rice was struck and killed stepped down Tuesday afternoon after spending two days on the stand.

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

In Erie County Court Monday morning, prosecutors began by laying the groundwork for Amherst Police Senior Accident Investigator Robert McMahon to testify in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti. 

Corasanti is accused of vehicular manslaughter in the July 8, 2011 hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

It is day ten of the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti.   The Amherst doctor is accused in the fatal July 8 hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

An Amherst Police officer testified Friday about collecting evidence at Corasanti's home. Detective Peter Crofut said one of the first things that was visible on the vehicle was a "palm print" on the hood of the car. 

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

Cell phone company records indicate Dr. James Corasanti sent and received nearly 80 text messages the day Alexandria Rice was killed.  But by the time investigators seized Corasanti's phone, most of them were gone.

Amherst Police Technical Services Officer Thomas Barillari testified legal procedures kept investigators from seizing Corasanti's phone until August 1, nearly three weeks after Rice was struck and killed along Heim Road. 

Mike Desmond/WBFO

A former Common Council member who is also employed as a Buffalo Police officer is facing federal charges for allegedly abusing sick leave at his job. 

Police say Robert Quintana, 50, was arrested this morning and charged with mail fraud and healthcare fraud. Quintana has been listed as 'injured on duty' since 2005 and has been receiving full pay and benefits. He had told the Police Department he had severe back injuries from a fall on duty.

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Testimony provided in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti Tuesday indicates both the doctor and the victim were texting right around the time 18-year-old "Alix" Rice was struck and killed last July. 

Erie County Court judge Sheila DiTullio has denied a defense request for a mistrial in the case of Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst.

As the trial resumed Monday morning defense attorney Joel Daniels asked the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming a report in Sunday's Buffalo News could have tainted jurors.

Corasanti is standing trial for vehicular manslaughter in the hit and run of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice of Amherst last July on Heim Road. 

The prosecution says Corasanti had been drinking prior to hit and run.

The medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on Alexandria Rice was among those called to the stand today in the continuing manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti in Erie County Court.

The first witness called on Day 6 of the trial was Amherst Police Detective John Trabert.  He testified about arranging what investigators call a "controlled pick-up" of the garbage that Corasanti's placed at the curb in front of their house the week after Rice was struck and killed while skateboarding on Heim Road. 

Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

Dr. James Corasanti's vehicular manslaughter trial resumed for its fifth day Thursday afternoon in Erie County Court with the Prosecution calling registered nurse Hope Dalrymple. 

Dalrymple is the RN at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital who carried out the court-ordered DWI blood test on Dr. Corasanti five hours after the car he was driving struck and killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice as she was skateboarding on Heim Road the night of July 8, 2011. 

Some local children will be taking part in a new initiative designed to promote healthy living.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded a grant to the Independent Health Foundation to bring the national "Soccer For Success" program to ten Buffalo Public elementary schools. 

The youth development program uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity. Independent Health President and CEO Dr. Michael Cropp said the epidemic of obesity and diabetes is driving the crisis in healthcare today.  

Chris Caya/WBFO

Ghoulish-looking protestors staged a 'die-in' this morning in downtown Buffalo as part of May Day/International Worker's Day demonstrations across the country.

Die-ins, where participant simulate being dead, became a popular form of protest against the Iraq war. The silent protest with American flags and anti-war signs took place outside the Lafayette Square military recruiter station. 

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

Testimony resumed today in the vehicular manslaughter trial of Dr. James Corasanti, who is accused of fatally striking teenager Alexandria Rice last July and then leaving the scene of the accident.

This morning, residents along Heim Road in Amherst where the collision occurred described hearing an unusual noise. One called it a "loud thump" and the other said it was a "horrific" noise and a "jarring sound," unnatural for the quiet neighborhood.  She said it's not unusual for bicyclists and skateboarders to use the bike lane on Heim. 

Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

The trial of Dr. James Corasanti resumes in Erie County Court Monday.

The Getzville man faces several charges including vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene after his car struck a teenager on a skateboard on Heim Road in Amherst.

Dozens of witnesses are expected to testify, including Corasanti's neighbors.

Erie County District Attorney Homicide Bureau Chief James Bargnesi said during opening statements last week Dr. Corasanti was texting moments before his car struck and killed 18-year-old Alix Rice.

The NFTA's long-vacant property on Buffalo's waterfront should be made into a family play space, according to the group Citizens for a 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor.  The group also wants the new park to be dedicated to Fredrick Law Olmsted, the man who designed much of the city green space. 

Former Erie County Legislator Joan Bozer says it's an opportunity to carry out Olmsted's plan for a waterfront park, which had to be moved inland in what became South Park.  Bozer points out the Greenway Plan and other waterfront proposals call for extending the "Olmsted legacy."

Pool photos provided by Buffalo News

The trial of Amherst Dr. James Corasanti is underway in an Erie County Courtroom.

Chris Caya/wbfo

It's been 150 years since the founding of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and to mark the occasion the public has been invited to help create a special anniversary work for the Gallery's collection.
 
In all, 150 Western New Yorkers were selected during yesterday's drawing in the Gallery.

"We think it will leave a great legacy and continue the great tradition at the Albright-Knox that we are supportive of new art, supportive of engaging artists in our community and building our collection," said Louis Grachos, Albright-Knox Director.

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