Prosecutor: Driver negligent in crash that killed Pittsfield motorcyclist


PITTSFIELD — A New York woman failed to yield the right of way in July 2014 when she turned into the path of a motorcyclist, who was killed when he rammed into her car, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

But the woman never saw the motorcycle coming, her attorney said during opening statements in her trial in Berkshire Superior Court.

Shannon Curtiss, 32, of Stephentown, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of motor vehicle homicide by negligence in connection with the crash that killed John J. Kenney, 49, of Pittsfield.

Curtiss was making a left turn from North Street on to Springside Avenue about 1 p.m. July 15, 2014, when her car was struck by Kenney's motorcycle, which was heading north on North Street.

Kenney was transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons said Curtiss neglected the solid green light indicating she needed to yield. And she said dash-cam video recording by another vehicle at the intersection supports the state's claim.

Some people seated in the court gallery lowered their heads and covered their eyes while Parsons recounted the accident.

Curtiss' attorney, Nathaniel K. Green, said his client had slowed at the intersection and allowed oncoming traffic to go by before proceeding.

Green said his client heard a horn just before hearing the impact on the passenger side of her car before pulling off to the side of the road.

He said the first time Curtiss saw Kenney or his motorcycle was after that impact.

Seven jurors — six women and a man — were selected Tuesday to serve on the trial. Six will deliberate the case and one will serve as an alternate.

A conviction on the vehicular homicide charge carries a minimum mandatory 30-day jail sentence and 15-year license loss. The maximum sentence is 2 1/2 years in jail.

Testimony in the trial, being presided over by Judge William O'Grady is expected to continue Wednesday.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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