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Testimony begins in collision shop owner's vehicular assault trial

Testimony begins in collision shop owner's vehicular assault trial

Crash left passenger in his vehicle paralyzed
Testimony begins in collision shop owner's vehicular assault trial
Photographer: Shutterstock

HALFMOON — The first full day of testimony in the vehicular assault trial of business owner John Cole began Thursday in Saratoga County Court.

Cole, a Colonie collision shop owner, is facing second-degree assault and second-degree vehicular assault charges, both felonies, in addition to the misdemeanors of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, related to a March 11, 2017, car crash on Sitterly Road in Halfmoon. The crash left a female passenger in his vehicle paralyzed. 

Jury selection began Monday and continued Tuesday, before the court closed on Wednesday due to inclement weather. 

Cole is being represented by Albany-based attorney Cheryl Coleman; the prosecutor in the case is Assistant District Attorney Katherine DeMartino.

Deanna Shapiro, who is a quadriplegic as a result of injuries she suffered in the crash, testified Thursday. 

Shapiro said she got into a car Cole was driving last March with her husband, Scott, and Cole's wife, Regina. 

Shapiro, who said she consumed alcohol while out that night, said Cole told her he drank water throughout the evening before getting behind the wheel. 

"All of a sudden, John hit the gas and we were flying," she said. "Scott and I yelled at him to slow down. He went around a bend and hit something, and we were airborne."

Shapiro, who said she was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, said the car went into the trees. 

Shapiro was unconscious and said she awoke a month after the accident in the hospital. She was later transferred to a rehabilitation facility.

"I'd like to be able to walk again and use my arms again," she said in court. "I'd like to dance with my sons at their wedding."

Cole, a Clifton Park resident, owns Cole's Collision Center on Central Avenue in Colonie. 

The trial is expected to continue Friday and could continue for up to two weeks. 

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