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Defense seeks to dismiss Schoharie limo charges

Defense seeks to dismiss Schoharie limo charges

Hearings set for November; trial slated for January
Defense seeks to dismiss Schoharie limo charges
Nauman Hussain goes through a metal detector at Schoharie Town Court for his arraignment, April 10, 2019.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer

SCHOHARIE — The defense in the criminal case against Nauman Hussain wants a judge to dismiss the criminal charges he faces in connection with last October's deadly limousine crash in Schoharie.

A request to dismiss the 20 charges each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide was part of an extensive "omnibus" defense motion filed in Schoharie County Court Thursday by Joseph Tacopina and Lee Kindlon, Hussain's attorneys.

The motion seeks to dismiss the charges for "insufficient evidence," and to suppress — keep out of the trial — any statements Hussain gave police in the wake of the Oct. 6, 2018, crash, in which 20 people were killed in the deadliest transportation crash in the United States in nearly a decade.

Hussain, 29, of Wilton, was the operator of Prestige Limousine of Wilton, which owned the stretch limousine involved in the crash. The vehicle came down a long hill on Route 30 in Schoharie, went through a stop sign at Route 30A, through the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store, and into a short ravine. The crash killed all 17 passengers — young adults heading to a birthday celebration in Cooperstown on Columbus Day weekend — the driver, and two pedestrians in the parking lot.

Prosecutors and police believe the vehicle's brakes failed. The charges brought by a grand jury in April are based on their conclusion that Hussain was aware of problems with the vehicle based on failed inspections for issues including brakes, and that driver Scott Lisinicchia wasn't properly licensed to transport so many people.

Motions to dismiss charges are a routine part of pre-trial proceedings in any criminal case, and are seldom granted.

The defense motion also asks County Court Judge George R. Bartlett III to direct District Attorney Susan Mallery to allow the defense to inspect the grand jury minutes that lead to Hussain's indictment. It also asks that Bartlett direct Mallery to disclose any material in her possession potentially helpful to the defense, and to disclose any information on Hussain's past police record it may want to use if the case goes to trial.

In the next phase of court action, Mallery will have until Sept. 26 to reply.

Any pretrial hearings are now scheduled to start Monday, Nov. 4, and continue that week, with a break for Election Day. Barlett said the trial date of Jan. 6, 2020, will remain the same.

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