Split verdict reached in deadly Wilton DWI case
A Saratoga County jury found Justin Rodriguez not guilty of murder on Thursday afternoon, but guilty of 14 other counts related to the crash that killed tow truck driver Alex Bleickhardt on the Northway in September.
In what is believed to be the first murder trial in Saratoga County related to a drunken driving fatality, the jury convicted Rodriguez of aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter and aggravated DWI, but acquitted him on the most serious charge.
Prosecutors told the jury that Rodriguez, from Moreau, had a .26% blood alcohol concentration on September 15, after drinking for hours at the Applebee’s in Wilton. Several witnesses testified that they tried to stop Rodriguez from driving, but he sped away and onto the Northway, crashing his truck into a box truck that had broken down on the shoulder of the highway, with Bleickhardt underneath.
Assistant District Attorney Shawn Lescault prosecuted the murder case under a theory of law that Rodriguez was acting with a depraved indifference to human life, not that he intentionally killed Bleickhardt.
Rodriguez, who has three prior DWI convictions, faces a maximum sentence of 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison when Judge Jim Murphy sentences him on September 14.