After three days of tense deliberations, the jury in the case of former Milford policeman Jason Anderson acquitted him of manslaughter charges in the deaths of two Orange teenagers. Instead, the jury found him guilty of the lesser charges of misconduct with a motor vehicle for both David Servin and Ashlie Krakowski, and of reckless driving.
The charges stem from an accident in the early morning hours of June 13, 2009, when Anderson’s cruiser struck the vehicle driven by Servin at the intersection of the Boston Post Road with Dogwood Road. The police car was going 94 miles per hour.
The verdict can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years said his lawyer, Hugh Keefe, after leaving the courtroom. Sentencing is set for Jan. 16.
The families of the victims felt vindicated.
“The jury finally came back with the right decision,” said Lois Krakowski, Ashlie’s grandmother, who had also been a witness on the stand.
And David Servin’s mother, Susan, added, “ Justice was finally served.”
Anderson was returning from a mutual aid call in West Haven when his cruiser struck and killed the two teenagers.
Servin was driving Krakowski’s car. They had been at a party in Milford earlier that night and the autopsy revealed that he had a blood alcohol level of seven times the legal limit.
Witnesses said Servin did not stop at the intersection, even though he had a blinking yellow light. In the same token, the police cruiser did not slow down when it was crossing earlier intersections.
The question of whether and how much each of the drivers contributed to the accident clearly divided the jury. In fact, they sent a note to Judge Denise Markle Tuesday afternoon saying they had reached an impasse.
In a first attempt at a verdict on Tuesday, the jury had answered “yes” to the special question posed by the defense as to whether Servin’s conduct constituted an “intervening cause.” The question — called special interrogatory — threw a monkey wrench into the process.
According to the legal principle, simply “contributing” to a certain situation does not satisfy the standard of an “intervening cause.”
And sure enough, the jury initially said “yes” to the intervening cause, then went on to find Anderson guilty of misconduct in Krakowski’s case and negligent homicide in Servin’s case.
The judge said she could not accept the verdict, as its findings were inconsistent. If they found Servin’s actions to have contributed to the accident, they could not convict Anderson of a crime.
The judge tasked them with clarifying their intentions.
By Wednesday afternoon, the jury said “no” to the question of intervening cause and found Anderson guilty of misconduct.
“There are no winners in this case,” said State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor, who had sought the manslaughter charge.
Keefe, the defense attorney, moved to throw the guilty charges out and acquit his client, but the judge denied that motion.
After the jury had initially affirmed that Servin’s conduct was an “intervening cause” in the accident, the judge should have set aside the charges, Keefe claimed.
Giving the jury the same charge again and again will not lead to an independent verdict, he argued.
“The jury will interpret that as saying you are unhappy with their answer,” Keefe told the judge. “The jury felt intimidated and pressured to change their decision, and low and behold, they changed it.”
“They did a complete 180,” Keefe said after the trial.
“We have a lot of issues to talk about on appeal.”