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.

See related: Citing anguish, families make emotional pleas in Tompkins manslaughter 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?”


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Jeff Stein

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