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The Berkshires

No decision yet on charges for driver in Northway crash

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Albany/HV: No decision yet on charges for driver in Northway crash
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We continue to learn more about the driver who police say caused this past weekend's fatal crash. Two Shen seniors were killed. Our Matt Hunter spoke with Dennis Drue's lawyer and joined us from the newsroom with more.

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- Days after two young lives were cut short on the Northway and two more were forever changed, a State Police investigation reveals more about Dennis Drue, the driver of the second vehicle involved.

While the results were not made public, authorities did receive the results of his blood alcohol content test but have not filed any charges.

"We can’t' charge based on emotion,” Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy said in a Wednesday interview. “We can't charge based on how we individually feel or might perceive these events. We have to charge based on facts, circumstances and proof."

State Police did say Drue tested positive for alcohol at the scene.

On Thursday afternoon, Murphy and New York State Police released a joint statement saying the final decision to file charges won't come until after testing for additional substances is complete - standard procedure according to Murphy's office.

"In my mind there's no question that they do have some doubts,” said Stephen Coffey, Drue’s attorney. “Because if they were convinced that that night that he was intoxicated or impaired they would have charged him on the spot because they would have never allowed him to leave if they were certain of that."

According to Coffey, the 22-year-old was returning from dinner at the time of the accident. He would not comment on whether Drue was drinking prior, or on reports of his prior arrests, which are sealed in Colonie Town Court.

"I don't care if he's got marijuana, cocaine, heroin, I don't care if he's a drug addict,” Coffey said Thursday afternoon, prior to the State Police and DA’s statement. “I don't care if he's a child molester, I don't care if he's a serial killer, the only issue is on the night in question, did he have criminal responsibility?"

The DA's office did not release a timetable for when potential charges might be filed. No matter the length of time, it seems unlikely the decision will come quickly enough for a grieving community looking for closure.

"I wouldn't want a case rushed just because it's done more quickly but less accurately,” Murphy said. “We only have one chance to do this, we have to do it correctly and I'm not willing to sacrifice accuracy for time."

"A lot of people aren't going to be happy based upon the investigation of this case,”
Coffey said. “Because I don't believe it's going to rise to the level people think."

Statement by DA James Murphy and NYSP Steven James

Release Date: December 6, 2012

Statement by DA James Murphy and NYSP Steven James regarding investigation into the death of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, and serious physical injury sustained by Bailey Wind and Matthey Hardy and conduct by Dennis Drue.

Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, III and NYSP Troop “G” BCI Captain Steven James announced today that the results of the blood test from the NYSP Crime lab have been received regarding Dennis Drue’s blood alcohol content (BAC) on the night of December 1, 2012.

At this time, the NYSP and the DA have chosen to postpone any charging decisions and have asked the NYSP Crime Lab to continue testing the blood sample for other substances, as they would in the ordinary course of the investigation. The NYSP and the DA will wait for these test results before a charging decision is made. Such results typically take 45 days, but the NYSP and the DA have asked that the NYSP Crime lab expedite these tests in order to provide a test result as soon as possible due to the seriousness of the case. It is anticipated that such test results will not be available until the end of next week.

The District Attorney’s Office is ethically prohibited from disclosing the percentage of alcohol by weight in Drue’s blood, the BAC, but DA Murphy said:

“Captain James and I have discussed the status of the investigation in general and the lab results in particular. We both agree that before a charging decision is made, further testing needs to be done. The blood sample would normally be tested for a whole range of substances in the ordinary course of the investigation and that is what is being done here. It is important for us to allow the lab to do a thorough investigation rather than one that is based on artificial time tables. Captain James, the families and I know that we must exercise patience and give our lab experts the necessary time to conduct these scientific tests in order to ensure the integrity of the investigation and trust its outcome.”

Captain James said “The investigation is progressing. However, further essential investigative steps are necessary before the full scope of the case has been reviewed.”

The NYSP and DA’s Office will continue to meet with the victims and the families of the victims in the coming days. The other aspects of the investigation are continuing.

No further comment will be forthcoming from Captain James or District Attorney Murphy, at this time.

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