ALBANY, N.Y. – The trial for the man accused of hitting and killing a bicyclist while leading police on a chase began Tuesday with opening statements.
Pablo Cruz, 40, is accused of driving 25 miles per hour over the speed limit while drunk in November 2012.
Jury selection took place on Monday. On Tuesday, opening statements were underway, beginning with Assistant District Attorney Mary Tanner-Richter. Richter says that the jury will get to see what happened before, during, and after the deadly incident involving a bicyclist.
Investigators say he ignored an officer trying to pull him over, leading them on a chase from Albany to Rotterdam. During the chase, police claim Cruz hit bicyclist, 45-year-old Paul Merges, on Manning Boulevard and he continued with the victim still attached to the truck.
Richter also told the jury that they will see video of most of the chase with Pablo Cruz.
The prosecution went on to say Cruz was drunk at the time of the crime and the defendant chose to keep on driving even after the fact he hit Merges. They also state that the only reason the chase ended was because the bike punctured the front of Cruz's truck in Rotterdam.
“You will get to see what law enforcement saw,” she stated.
Cruz's attorney, Michael Feit, addressed the jury on Tuesday morning. He stated that Cruz has not being accurately characterized. Feit said no car was damaged before or after the collision with bicyclist Paul Merges. He also said the autopsy results of Merges showed the bicyclist's blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit of being behind a car.
Feit also stated that there was no way Cruz could have seen bicyclist.
"You will find the testimony in the case in the prosecutions witnesses that this was an unavoidable accident and that this was a tragedy," said Feit.
At the time of the incident, police say that Cruz was sometimes driving in excess of 90 miles per hour, driving over the double yellow lines, and at times, almost striking marked police units.
Cruz's vehicle stopped in the vicinity of Curry Road in the Town of Rotterdam and he allegedly failed to comply with police officers commands to exit the vehicle. Cruz is also accused of fighting with numerous officers who were attempting to take him into custody.
Cruz has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges against him, which include murder and manslaughter charges.
Jury selection is took place Monday morning. The prosecution, assistant district attorney and defense attorney questioned each potential juror to see if they were fit for the trial.
The attorneys want to make sure the prosecution does not have to show intent because the trial is what they called a “depraved indifference murder,” and the defense also wants jurors to know if they have reasonable doubt to deliver a not guilty verdict.
The people will call their first witness on Tuesday afternoon.