Jury deliberations underway at Schoharie limo trial
Jury deliberations have started in the Schoharie limo trial, as they decide if Nauman Hussain is guilty of manslaughter.
Hussain is the operator of Prestige Limo – the company that owned the limo.
The jury listened to a total of two and a half hours of closing arguments on Tuesday.
Hussain is facing 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide and 20 counts of manslaughter – one count for each person who died in the horrific limo crash in October 2018.
Twenty people died in the tragedy – 17 passengers, the limo driver, and two pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel store, where the limo crashed.
The trial was expected to last up to six weeks, with about 100 witnesses, but barely lasted a week. The prosecution called around 25 witnesses, with the defense calling none.
Defense says Hussain not at fault
In an hour-long closing statement, defense attorney Lee Kindlon laid it all out. He stated that although Hussain didn’t follow every rule and regulation, he is not at fault for the limo crash.
Kindlon showed the jury documents from Mavis Discount Tire — as he put it — falsifying repairs.
As the defense presented their closing arguments, Hussain’s girlfriend was seen crying.
“The state police arrested the wrong man,” said Kindlon, sticking by his defense that employees at Mavis are at fault for the deaths of 20 people.
“Do not be afraid of not guilty,” Kindlon said as he wrapped up his summation. “We picked you because you promised you would be fair.”
Prosecution points to Hussain’s responsibility
Then it was special prosecutor Fred Rench‘s turn.
“The heart of this is the personal responsibility of Nauman Hussain,” he told the jury.
Rench said it was Hussain’s exclusive responsibility to fix, maintain and inspect the vehicle.
He also told jurors that what happened at Mavis had nothing to do with the cause of this accident.
Rench ended on an emotional note, listing the names of each victim in the crash.
Families react inside courtroom
Dozens of family members have been sitting inside court for the duration of this trial.
They’ve been riding on an awful roller-coaster of ups and downs, with a plea deal that was on the table last summer for the defendant, and then Lynch – the same judge presiding over the trial right now – suddenly rejecting that deal.
There have been moments where many of the family members became emotional, including when Rench read those 20 victims’ names.
The family members have said they do not want to talk until this trial is done. They’re nervous and exhausted after living a four-and-a-half-year long nightmare.
Jury deliberations ended at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
NewsChannel 13 has a team of reporters covering this from Schoharie. We will bring you updates on WNYT.com and our later newscasts.