This story was reported by Faith Meckley and written by Jeff Stein
Ithaca, N.Y. — Before his client was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison, defense attorney Joseph Joch delivered a speech in which he asked the judge for leniency.
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“Nobody on our side fails to understand the agony and loss,” Joch said. “Least of all does the defendant.”
That defendant, James Crosby, was 19 when he was involved in a New Year’s Eve crash that took the lives of his passenger, Derek Nichols, 20, and a passenger in the other car, Kathy Lattimore, 67.
Crosby was sentenced in Tompkins County Court on Friday after Judge John Rowley found him guilty in a non-jury trial.
Several of Nichols’ family members were in the courtroom for the sentencing.
In December 2014, Crosby was convicted of two counts of second-degree manslaughter, second and third-degree assault and of reckless driving. Over the course of the trial, the prosecution characterized Crosby as a reckless driver more interested in a joyride than ensuring the safety of those around him.
Joch, Crosby’s attorney, only spoke for a few minutes on Friday. He didn’t give a number of years he thought his client should serve — instead making a general plea for leniency.
“Look at things at a basic level,” Joch said to the judge, before saying Crosby showed “no malice, no evil, no desire to cause harm.”
Crosby, Joch said, had made a “simple but deadly mistake.”
“I submit to you that he’s been through hell and back — a year has gone by, he’s been called all names under the sun … he is suffering,” Joch said.
“Which of us would trade places with him?”