UPDATE: Jury on Wednesday finds Anderson guilty of two counts of misconduct with a motor vehicle and reckless driving. More details coming.
TUESDAY: Former Milford Police Officer Jason Anderson was found not guilty of manslaughter charges in the death of two Orange teenagers by a jury this week, but the judge in the case sent the jury back to reconsider its decision.
A six-member jury found Anderson guilty not of manslaughter but of negligent homicide in the death of David Servin, and misconduct with a motor vehicle in the death of Ashlie Krakowski. Anderson also was found guilty of reckless driving.
Judge Denise Markle sent the jury back to clarify its verdict at around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The jury had answered “yes” to the question of whether Servin’s conduct was an “intervening cause” of the accident. However, that finding would relieve the defendant of criminal responsibility.
In that sense the jury could not answer in the affirmative and find the defendant guilty of homicide or misconduct.
As of late Tuesday, the judge had instructed the jury to clarify its answer to the question about Servin’s actions as an intervening cause. When the jury came back just before 5 p.m., the judge was not satisfied with their answer and the proceedings were recessed until Wednesday.
Defense lawyer Hugh Keefe objected to the jury’s initial verdict regarding negligent homicide, saying the jury had already answered the question when it ruled on Servin as an intervening cause. He moved that Anderson be acquitted on those grounds.
Judge Markle said the jury should have a chance to clarify its intentions.
In the days leading up to jury deliberations, the jury was told it would have to decide whether the fact that the teenage driver, 19-year-old David Servin of Orange, was drunk and probably disobeyed a red blinking light, weighed enough to lower the responsibility of the police officer in the accident.
Anderson, then a Milford cop, was returning from a call in West Haven when his cruiser crashed into the Mazda driven by Servin in the early morning hours of June 13, 2009. The passenger in Servin’s car was Ashlie Krakowski, also 19, of Orange.
Anderson was charged with two counts of manslaughter and reckless driving.
Anderson has since been fired, lost his job, his career and his reputation, said his lawyer, Hugh Keefe, in the final days before jury deliberation. But Keefe claimed that Anderson’s conduct was not the sole cause of the accident.
“This collision would not have happened if Mr. Servin had stopped,” Keefe said in his closing arguments last week. He disputed that it was even a rolling stop, as State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor maintained. The defense’s accident reconstructionist determined that Servin was going 37.4 miles per hour at the time of impact.
“What is [Anderson] guilty of? Speeding, reckless driving before the impact. Stretching that to manslaughter is more than a stretch,” Keefe said. “It’s an outrageous assertion.”
Lawlor on the other hand emphasized the extreme speed and distance the defendant covered in a matter of seconds, “then his luck ran out.”
Speed kills, that’s how Lawlor summed it up repeatedly in his closing statements.
In those closing arguments, Lawlor showed the jury again the dashcam video that captured the scene that night from a fellow police cruiser Anderson had passed on the right as he was returning to Milford at 94 or 95 miles per hour.
Lawlor pointed out that the cruiser accelerated through two yellow blinking lights before it broadsided Servin and Krakowski.
Obviously Servin’s turning contributed to the crash, Lawlor said. “But the boy turned in front of a speeding bullet.”