Prosecutor: Gallo high when he ran down Schenectady teen
SCHENECTADY The man accused of striking and killing a pedestrian then fleeing the scene smoked crack cocaine minutes before the crash, a prosecutor told a jury Tuesday morning.
Prosecutor Brian Gray recounted both the horrific final moments of the life of 19-year-old college student Cassandra Boone and the moments leading up to her death for the jury considering the fate of the man charged with killing her.
Causing her death, and fleeing the scene without even hitting his brakes, Gray told the jury, was Anthony Gallo.
“That truck didn’t even hit its brakes, not even for a second,” he told the jury. “Not a single witness hears the screech of tires, any deceleration of the vehicle or even see brake lights flash.”
Instead, the truck continued speeding north on Erie Boulevard.
Gallo, 35, of Rotterdam, is standing trial in Boone’s Nov. 16, 2011, death after she was struck and killed trying to cross Erie Boulevard at State Street. 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. Gray told the jury he expects to prove that by putting on the stand the man Gallo himself described as his drug dealer, as well as using Gallo’s own statements against him.
Defense attorney Michael Mansion told the jury that Gray will have to prove that Gallo was high on drugs — but won’t be able to. He pointed to a blood test Gray contended contained metabolites of cocaine and morphine. The blood sample was taken at 2:30 p.m. the day after the accident, and Mansion said the tests don’t prove whether the drugs were taken before or after the accident.
The victim has been described by those who knew her 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 daycare center.
Boone, Gray told the jury, had just finished classes at Schenectady County Community College and was making the two-mile walk home to Avenue B. At State Street, on the corner with the marquee, Boone pressed the crossing button. A couple on the opposite corner did so, as well, and saw Boone hit the button.
The light turned red and the walk sign given. The couple started off the curb, but heard the truck coming. The man pulled the woman back. Boone, though, had made it three-quarters of the way across and was struck.
She was knocked 85 feet from the impact site. One of her boots flew over the heads of witnesses. The other lay in the street, still upright.
Those witnesses called 911, Gray told the jury. The driver did not.
Other good Samaritans stopped to help, too. A man in a van parked to protect Boone from oncoming traffic. Another person ran from a nearby parking lot to try to soothe and comfort her, supporting her neck.
Rescuers soon arrived and Boone was taken to Albany Medical Center. But there was nothing they could do; she died as doctors tried to save her.
The initial witnesses described the vehicle to police as a white truck. Debris left at the scene confirmed it was a mid-1990s Dodge Dakota.
Police were led to Gallo the next day, after a former girlfriend at Yates Village responded to news reports seeking help. She spotted the truck at Yates Village, where Gallo’s new girlfriend also lived, Gray said.
Police arrived and found Gallo. At the station, Gallo initially denied being the driver, then admitted he was. He told police he was coming from his drug dealer’s house on Genesee Street when he hit Boone, but hadn’t gotten high yet.
Police tracked down the dealer, Gray said, and he told a different story. He told of hanging out in his basement with Gallo, smoking crack cocaine together through the early evening.
Gray also pointed jurors to another part of Gallo’s recorded interview with police, in which Gallo allegedly volunteered to police that he and his girlfriend weren’t talking that day because she knew he was getting high.
“These are things we know because the defendant tells us in his interview,” Gray said.
Mansion tried to respond to the girlfriend remark by arguing she gave a statement the day Gallo was picked up and made no mention of Gallo appearing to be under the influence of drugs.
Mansion also highlighted the truck, which was seized and processed by police but was crushed before Mansion had a chance to inspect it. Mansion told the jury the judge will give them an instruction that they will be able to draw an “adverse inference” against the prosecution for the destruction of the truck.
Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino is presiding over the case. The trial is expected to last 2 1⁄2 weeks.