Autobody shop owner guilty in crash that paralyzed woman

March 17, 2018 07:34 AM

A prominent owner of an autobody shop has been found guilty of some of the charges stemming from a crash that left a woman paralyzed from the shoulders down.

John Cole, the owner of Cole Collision Centers, has been convicted of assault and driving with ability impaired. The jury cleared him of DWI and vehicular assault.


Cole was driving his BMW in March 2017 when he crashed the car, leaving his longtime friend and passenger, Deanna Shapiro, paralyzed.

During the deliberations, the jury handed the judge at least three notes. One of them asked whether a person can be convicted of reckless driving if he or she is not intoxicated. The judge said yes.

The jury also requested the definitions of "intoxication" and "impairment" be read to them. Finally, they requested read back of testimony from the state trooper who administered the field sobriety test to Cole the night of the crash. That trooper testified that Cole failed four out of five tests and refused to take a breathalyzer.

Police say Cole had a blood alcohol concentration of .10, but the jury never found that out because of an error in seeking a judge’s order to draw his blood.  So with blood evidence inadmissible, prosecutors were left to use witness and police testimony to try to prove Cole was intoxicated.

Deanna Shapiro's husband Scott issued the following statement, "This case was never the Shapiros versus the Coles; it’s unfortunate attorney Cheryl Coleman presented the case in that manner. There are clearly no winners here, the impact on both my family and John’s family cannot be understated. Our thoughts are with Gina and their children, this is a difficult situation for all of us but we’re relieved the jury came to the proper conclusion and we can now return our focus to Dee’s continued care."


WNYT Staff

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