James Corasanti sentenced to one year in prison

Aug 17, 2012

Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst has been sentenced to one year in prison for a DWI conviction stemming from the hit-and-run accident that killed 18-year-old Alexandria Rice last summer.

It was the maximum sentence that could have been handed down by Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio, who reminded Corasanti "you drank a lot of booze that night."

Corasanti, 56, was convicted of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated in May, but was acquitted of five more serious charges, including vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene without reporting, and tampering with evidence. The verdict angered many in the community. 

Prosecutors alleged Corasanti was drunk, speeding, and texting as he drove home from a country club outing when he struck and killed Rice, who was riding on her longboard on Heim Road on July 8, 2011.  His defense attorneys countered the doctor didn't know he had hit anyone until later that night.

Corasanti sat quietly looked straight ahead as Alexandria Rice's father Richard called him arrogant and irresponsible. Corasanti did not speak at today's sentencing. None of his family members were in the courtroom.

"I wish I could say that I'm excited, but I'm not. Nobody's won anything. Everybody's lost something from this," said Richard Rice.

Alix's mother Tammy Shueler told reporters afterward she feels relieved by the sentence, having feared that Corasanti would "walk away with a slap on the wrist."

"There's a huge, ugly portion of my life where the door is closed. I at least know he's going to jail. He's doing the time that he should do," Shueler said. "Not joy. Not happiness. Relief."

Corasanti has also been fined $1,000 and had his driver license revoked for six months.  He still faces a civil trial.

Corasanti was handcuffed and led out of Erie County Court with his head down. He will serve his sentence at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.

Defense Attorney Joel Daniels  says Corasanti and his team were prepared for the sentence, respect the judge's decision, and will not appeal.

"The doctor will complete his sentence and then we will move on," said Daniels.

"It's time to heal and it's time to move on," Daniels added. "This case is over. This was the last chapter and the book is closed."

A candlelight vigil will be held Thursday night at the Heim Road location where Alexandria Rice was killed last July.