Updated 09/11/2012 11:44 AM
Ariano Found Not Guilty in Fatal Crash
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A not guilty verdict Tuesday in the three day bench trial of the man accused in a drug-related car crash in that killed John Blair, 69, of Wheatland.
John Ariano, 55, faced charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, driving while ability impaired by drugs, and driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs or alcohol in connection with the fatal crash that happened at the intersection of North and Wheatland Center roads in July 2011.
Monroe County Court Judge Frank Geraci said although John Ariano did run a stop sign and cause the crash that killed John Blair, he said there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Ariano was impaired at moment of the crash.
A toxicologist testified marijuana and, alprazolam, a drug prescribed to treat panic and anxiety disorders were in Ariano's blood stream, but several other witnesses including, first responders, deputies, a nurse at the hospital and even a driver who followed Ariano for seven miles after the fatal crash all testified Ariano showed no signs of being impaired.
"I believe there is something lacking in New York State law with respect to marijuana and what level means impaired. Obviously with Driving While Intoxicated we have .08, if you have above .08, the law assumes you're intoxicated. We don't have that for marijuana. So even though in our case, we believe we had a very high level of marijuana, 5.4 nanograms, there's nothing according to New York State to say that means someone's impaired," Assistant District Attorney, Amanda Balling, said.
"We were trying to get closure to this, and right now it just doesn't feel like there's any closure. It's kind of ironic, you sit in the front of the courtroom and you hear people in back cheer that somebody was found not guilty of killing your father. I can't even put that into words," Kent Blair said.
Ariano, and his family did not make themselves available for interviews after the verdict.