SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Saratoga County Judge Jerry Scarano has decided to allow Dennis Drue's statements he made after a fatal crash that claimed the life of two Shenendehowa students to be used in court.
Dennis Drue, 23, has been indicted on 59 counts including Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Manslaughter. He is accused of causing the December 2012 car crash that killed two 17-year-old high school seniors from Shenendahowa, Deanna Rivers and Chris Stewart, and injuring two others.
Drue has pleaded not guilty to his charges.
On Tuesday, Judge Scarano says he found that on the night of the crash, December 1, 2012 around 10:20 p.m., officers arrived to the scene to find Drue in the front passenger seat of a minivan parked on the shoulder of the Northway in Halfmoon. Drue had a towel wrapped around his head with blood on his face.
Drue told officers on scene that he hit black ice and lost control of his vehicle. Troopers smelled alcohol on his breath, noticed slurred speech, glossy eyes, and staggered walk. According to court documents, when the trooper engaged in conversation Drue said, "Oh, I love my car, my poor car."
Drue said he had one drink - a gin and tonic with a steak dinner at Koto - prior to the crash. He took a breath test which indicated a BAC of .08. He repeatedly said he hit black ice and lost control, and the other car involved in the crash must have hit the same ice. Drue told officers he was alone in the car, traveling around 70 miles per hour, and was heading home from dinner. He told officers he had not currently used any illegal drugs or prescription medications. He expressed concerned about his vehicle and said he hadn't been in an accident for four years.
The trooper told Drue he was going to be arrested for driving while intoxicated and read his DWI rights and Miranda warnings. Drue agreed and was then placed in an ambulance. When asked an additional time if he would consent to a blood test, Drue responded "what should I do, my life is over."
Drue was read his DWI rights a second and third time and declined to take the test.
On way to Ellis hospital, an emergency medical technician asked Drue what happened. He said he hit black ice, spun around, and didn't know what he had hit. He denied being drunk, making reference to bartenders shorting drinks on alcohol.
At the hospital, Drue was re-read his Miranda rights and said he would speak voluntarily. He finally consented to a blood test and told officers he had not taken any Adderol which he was prescribed.
New York State Police investigators stepped in and during a conversation with Drue concerning his cell phone, Drue said "there is no way that you will be able to prove that I was texting while driving."
Then, the afternoon of January 4th, police investigators arrived at Drue's Halfmoon home and placed him under arrest. While he was being transported, court documents state Drue spontaneously said, "This is bullsh**. Those kids slammed on their brakes. This is just an accident, nothing more. You just need somebody to parade around for their deaths."
Also on that day, Drue stated "there's no way there was anything in my blood" in reference to drugs and "I didn't even smoke that day." He spontaneously stated "I can't believe they're charging me with possession of marijuana. My car was clean. There wasn't any weed in there."
Earlier this month there was a Huntley hearing, a pre-trial process in which a Judge decides if certain evidence can or cannot be used during the trial.
The judge decided statements may be used due to the fact all statements were made after Drue was told he was under arrest for DWI, and advised of his Miranda rights, on the night of December 1st.
The trial is scheduled to begin on September 30, 2013.
Saratoga County District Attorney Murphy said after reading the decision:
"I am pleased with the Judge's decision which is based on the facts and the constitution. He found that the New York State Police properly "Mirandized" the defendant, and that his statements were voluntarily. He agreed with us that the defendant understood his rights. Further, the judge concluded that the statements that fell outside of Miranda were spontaneous, not in response to questions by law enforcement, were without provocation or inducement and therefore will be allowed to be heard by a jury. We believe allowing the trial jury to hear the evidence that Judge Scarano has ruled upon is only appropriate and serves the interests of justice."
The full decision is below.