Opening statements offer vastly different views of Schoharie limo company operator

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The trial to determine criminal responsibility in the October 6, 2018 Schoharie limo crash – the deadliest highway crash in decades – got underway in earnest Monday morning.

After a week to pick a jury, lawyers made their first impressions on the nine women and three men who’ll decide Nauman Hussain’s fate. He’s the operator of the limo company at the center of the crash.

Attorneys gave their opening statements, offering vastly differing views of Hussain and who is responsible.

Hussain is charged with 20 counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, accused of putting the limo on the road even though he knew it wasn’t safe.

District attorney Frederick Rench – who was brought in as a special district attorney to help Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery – spent 40 minutes telling the jury that if not for Hussain ignoring state regulations, 20 people would be alive today.

However, defense attorney Lee Kindlon said police and prosecutors have made Hussain the scapegoat.
Kindlon painted Hussain as a naive young man who was doing his best to follow the lead of state regulators.

At nearly every point in his 20-minute opening statement, Kindlon pointed the finger squarely at Mavis Discount Tire, the Saratoga Springs repair shop Hussain paid to fix the limo’s brakes but never did.

Kindlon raised his voice as he told the jury that prosecutors are trying to get them to look away from who is really at fault.

So the distinction was drawn very early and very clearly.