Bonnie Bohacek, the 45-year-old nurse accused of causing the Oct. 15 head-on crash that killed an Amsterdam man, was acquitted Thursday in Montgomery County Court on five serious felonies, including second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
The jury deliberated about four hours before returning the acquittal on the felonies but finding the Fort Hunter resident guilty of the misdemeanor, reckless driving.
She will be sentenced on that charge in August. The maximum penalty is 30 days in jail.
Defense attorney Robert Abdella of Gloversville said the jury reached its decision because there was no evidence that Bohacek was impaired by the combination of painkillers prescribed to her for a chronic back condition, as alleged by the prosecution.
There were no witnesses to the accident that occurred at 6:30 that morning on Route 5S in the town of Florida. Abdella said his client, in a coma for days after the crash, has no recollection of what happened when she crossed into the westbound lane on her way to work and hit a 1995 Honda CRV driven by Anacleto Tambasco, 60, of Amsterdam.
Abdella said, “You’re not necessarily impaired just because you take pain medication.”
While he and Bohacek are relieved and consider the acquittal “a major victory,” Abdella said they do not forget the loss to the Tambasco family.
“The reality here is that a man lost his life,” Abdella said.
Prosecutor Kelli P. McCoski could not be reached for comment.
The other charges included in the acquittal are vehicular assault, second-degree assault and driving while ability impaired by drugs.
Testimony at the four-day trial revealed Bohacek had five or six drugs in her system when tested after the accident.
They included morphine and hydrocodone, but Abdella told the jury in his opening that several of the drugs were administered by first responders at the accident scene.
He said the reference to the drug morphine distorts the impression of the case because Bohacek was prescribed a mild form of the drug called morphine sulfate.