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What you need to know for 01/21/2017

Closing arguments made in Erie Boulevard fatality

Closing arguments made in Erie Boulevard fatality

Attorneys in the hit-and-run case that left 19-year-old college student Cassandra Boone dead focused

Attorneys in the hit-and-run case that left 19-year-old college student Cassandra Boone dead focused this morning on whether the driver was high at the time of the crash.

Anthony Gallo's attorney, Michael Mansion, said that while testimony indicated that his client had traces of crack cocaine and morphine in his system the next day, no witnesses could show that Gallo was high at the time of the crash.

Prosecutor Brian Gray, though, pointed to two witnesses who said Gallo was smoking crack cocaine at a home in Bellevue just before he left in his truck, then struck and killed Boone.

Gray also pointed to witnesses to the crash impact itself, who described Gallo as driving recklessly down Erie Boulevard, one who described him as driving "like a bat out of hell."

The witnesses also relayed that Gallo never even tapped his brakes as he sped off, leaving Boone lying dying on the side of the road.

"I would submit to you that if somebody hits a human being -- and you've heard testimony that her body went 85 feet -- how do you not instinctively slam on the brakes?" Gray asked the jury. "He doesn't slow down. He doesn't tap his brakes. He doesn't do anything.

"I submit to you that all the factors are consistent with not only reckless driving, but also that he was high at the time he was driving."

The attorneys gave their closing arguments this morning in Gallo's trial.

Gallo, 35, of Rotterdam, is accused of striking Boone Nov. 16, 2011 with his truck, killing her. The Schenectady County Community College student was attempting to cross Erie Boulevard at State Street when she was struck.

Gallo faces multiple charges, with the top count, aggravated vehicular homicide, carrying a sentence of as much as 25 years in prison upon conviction.

The top count is dependent on the jury finding that Gallo was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. The top count carries a sentence of up to 25 years. Lesser counts, which could send him to prison for up to 15 years, do not contain that requirement.

In his closing arguments, Mansion focused on the drug testimony, appearing to concede that Gallo was the driver. Gallo admitted to police and others that he was the driver.

Mansion questioned testimony that said Gallo was smoking crack cocaine before the accident.

"With all these people that came in, no one could say definitively, in my opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Anthony Gallo was operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs," Mansion told the jury.

The victim has been described as a woman with a kind heart, someone who devoted her time to classes at Schenectady County Community College and volunteered at a local nursery school. She also had dreams of owning her own day-care center.

At the time of the accident, Gallo had 10 suspensions on his driving record, police have said. The state Department of Motor Vehicles' public record for Gallo includes suspensions from Rotterdam, Niskayuna, Albany and Greenwich for either failing to answer a summons or failing to pay fines.

Deliberations could begin as early as this afternoon.

The trial is before acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino.

Follow @gazettecrime on Twitter.

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