Pittsfield teen ruled not guilty of intentionally running man down with car
PITTSFIELD -- A teen accused of intentionally hitting a man with his car in August 2011 was found not guilty of a single felony on Tuesday following a day-long Jury of Six trial in Central Berkshire District Court.
While Adam Thomas Liccardi, 18, of New Hampshire Avenue, was found not guilty of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, he is still facing four rape charges for the alleged sexual assault of a University of Massachusetts at Amherst student in her dorm room.
The two cases are unrelated.
On Tuesday, a jury of four women and two men took about an hour to return the not guilty verdict in the trial before Judge Fredric D. Rutberg.
The case revolved around two very different versions of what happened on the night of Aug. 18, 2011.
Richard M. Crapo, the 35-year-old alleged victim, and several other prosecution witnesses told the jury that Liccardi and another man showed up at a get-together in Pittsfield and stole money from Crapo's fiancée. A group of five people went to Liccardi's house on New Hampshire Avenue to get the money back, according to Crapo's testimony.
Liccardi showed up, began walking toward the group, but fled back to his car and attempted to leave, said Crapo.
Crapo was standing in front of the car when Liccardi ran him down, he said.
"I didn't have a chance to get out of the way," Crapo said in court. "The car struck me in the legs. I went up, hit the windshield ... I flipped over and landed on the ground."
Crapo said he suffered a hairline fracture in his right hip and pinched nerves along his spine. The defense provided the jury with a medical report that they said never mentioned any broken bones.
According to Liccardi, who took the stand in his own defense, he and two friends drove to the party to buy some marijuana from one of the people there and drove off without paying for the drugs, believing they had been shorted on the amount.
He told the jury that when he returned to his home there was a group of "six to eight" people waiting there. Liccardi said he was frightened when the group began running toward him so he got back into his car, which was then surrounded. He said Crapo attempted to jump onto the hood of Liccardi's car and then rolled off as a frightened Liccardi drove off, according to the defendant's testimony. His story was backed up by several defense witnesses.
Prosecutor Joseph Yorlano said that Liccardi's version of events didn't make sense, that the defendant and his friends weren't reliable witnesses and that Liccardi "panicked" and hit Crapo with his car.
According to Liccardi's lawyer, Michelle Mechta, the prosecution's witnesses told several differing versions of what happened, none believable, and that the case was about a drug deal gone bad. Crapo, she said, was injured due to his own "foolishness" when he attempted to jump onto a moving car.
Mechta said that her client did what most people in his situation would have.
"They were a bunch of scared teenagers," she told the jury.
Liccardi seemed relieved by the verdict, but he still has one more trial to go.
He, along with three other teens, is accused of raping a female student in her dorm room on Oct. 13 at the UMass campus in Amherst. The defendants' attorneys maintain that any sexual contact was consensual.
Besides Liccardi, 18-year-olds Emmanuel T. Bile and Justin A. King and 17- year- old Caleb M. Womack were charged in the alleged attack. None is a UMass student.
Liccardi is out on $2,500 cash bail in that case. He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault in Hampshire Superior Court.
Police and prosecutors said that Liccardi went back to the dorm room after the initial assault and raped the student again.
He is scheduled to appear in Hampshire Superior Court on March 19 for a pretrial hearing in the rape case.
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