Sara Karlson contributed reporting

Ithaca, N.Y. — James Crosby was found guilty on manslaughter charges in Tompkins County Court Wednesday morning.

Why I shop downtown — Carmen

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Judge John Rowley announced and decided the verdict, saying that Crosby was “solely responsible” for the accident. The non-jury trial began on Dec. 8.

Crosby was found guilty on two counts of second-degree manslaughter, of second-and third-degree assault and of reckless driving.

A few dozen people were in the courtroom for the announcement. Some wept as the verdict was handed down.

Sentencing is scheduled for March. Crosby was released and not sent to jail, despite the assistant district attorney’s request to put him behind bars immediately.

“Today is not the day for punishment,” Judge Rowley said. Bail was set at $5,000 and Crosby will have to wear an ankle monitoring device.

The defense attorney had argued that Crosby should not be sent to jail.

“(Crosby) was at the time engaged in the simple, innocent behavior of driving to Ithaca,” said lawyer Joseph Joch. “He is a person who, as you can see, has a family who supports him to the nth degree. They have been bankrupted by the defense of this case.”

Tompkins County Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski said she’ll be seeking the maximum sentence of five to 15 years. The judge denied her request to have Crosby’s bail revoked on Dec. 31.

Crosby, of Van Etten, was charged after the fatal New Year’s Eve crash that took the lives of Spencer residents Kathy Lattimore, 67, and Derek Nichols, 20. Nichols was Crosby’s best friend.

Victim’s brother reacts

Tyler Nichols, younger brother of the crash victim, attended much of the trial.

“I feel that justice was served,” Tyler Nichols said in a short interview outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

However, Tyler Nichols said he thought it was unfair that Crosby was not immediately sent to jail and will instead be on house arrest until his sentencing.

“We didn’t get to see Derek at New Year’s Eve this year, so why should (Crosby) get to spend it with his family?,” Tyler Nichols said.

“I hope he gets the max sentence and spends time in prison.”

Courtroom drama


The Newfield accident was poured over in excruciating detail over the course of the trial. Crosby sat through it, most days wearing a red-striped black sweater, sometimes squirming in his seat.

ADA Filipowski and defense attorney Joseph Joch sparred — sometimes with visible anger or disdain for the other side — over the course of the trial.

They sought primarily to bolster the credibility and logic of supporting witnesses: In the case of the ADA, this meant state police investigators. In the case of the defense attorney, this meant a forensic consultant named William Ficher.

Dozens of people attended the trial, including many of Nichols’ family members. Several wore orange sweatshirts emblazoned with his name. See below for more on the trial.

Friends and family of Derek Nichols appeared in Tompkins County Court in early December.

What the prosecution argued

What the defense argued 

Previous coverage of James Crosby manslaughter case

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.