Ballston man can appeal homicide conviction , but without assigned counsel

Thursday, October 3, 2013
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— Brian Vecchio can try appealing his guilty plea to criminally negligent homicide, but he’ll have to do it without his assigned counsel.

Justices with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division relieved attorney Scott Walling from representing the 20-year-old Ballston man now serving up to four years in state prison for killing a teenage passenger in his truck during a high-speed crash in Providence nearly two years ago. Walling argued there were no “nonfrivolous” issues to be raised on appeal in filings to the court.

“Based upon our review of the record and counsel’s brief, we agree,” the justices wrote in a short two-page ruling.

In January 2012, Vecchio was driving a Chevrolet Silverado on Barkersville Road with 17-year-old Ballston Spa High School junior Noelle Johnsen as his passenger. Vecchio attempted to speed past another vehicle filled with teenagers, but lost control of his vehicle and hit a utility pole.

Authorities later determined Vecchio had been driving 98 mph when they analyzed a “black box” data recorder in his vehicle. A grand jury indicted him on a charge of second-degree manslaughter, but he admitted to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide as part of a plea deal in May.

Vecchio sought youthful offender status, but it was denied at his sentencing in August 2012. In a statement made in court, he said he planned to discuss his ordeal with reckless driving with young drivers and that he had already created a powerpoint presentation for that purpose.

Vecchio is in the second year of his sentence at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility in Greene County. He is eligible for parole in December, but his earliest scheduled release date isn’t until March 2015, according to state Department of Corrections records.

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