WNYT.com

Defense attorney: Drue has no criminal responsibility

Posted at: 12/06/2012 11:33 PM
Updated at: 12/07/2012 1:27 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - On the day toxicology tests came back from the State Police Crime Lab, the Saratoga County district attorney, along with state police, announced they are holding off on any charges against the young man they originally said had alcohol in his system the night of a deadly crash on the Northway.

Albany attorney Steve Coffey is representing Dennis Drue, 22, of Clifton Park, who slammed into an SUV over the weekend, killing Christopher Stewart, 17, captain of the Shenendehowa High School football team, and Deanna Rivers, 17, center fielder for the school's softball team.

Two other students, Matt Hardy, 17, a Shenedehowa football senior, and Bailey Wind, 17, a member of the Shaker High School diving team, were injured in the crash. Both of them had been released from the hospital and sent home by Thursday night.

Neither the horrific nature of the crash, nor the tragic results are being questioned. What seems to be an issue is the criminal culpability of Drue.

"Every piece of evidence that I have right now doesn't just suggest, but confirms to me that Dennis Drue did not commit a criminal act," Coffey reiterated.

In the hours after the crash, authorities were quick to point out information that, at the time, seemed to be incriminating against Drue.

"A breath screening test was conducted on Mr. Drue," New York State Police Capt. Steven James announced at a Sunday afternoon news conference. "On each occasion there was a positive test for alcohol."

Coffey called that revelation "very misleading."

NewsChannel 13 has learned that Drue's blood test results showed he was not drunk at the time of the crash. In light of that, Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy released a statement on Thursday saying he has chosen to "postpone any charging decisions" against Drue and has asked the State Police Crime Lab to "continue testing for other substances."

"I've never seen a press release like this before, never," Coffey said. "I don't know what substances they're going to find."

Coffey also asserts that Drue's past speeding convictions and license revocations are not relevant in this case, and he reiterates he's not worried about the things that have been said about his client, including the statement by James on Sunday that, "it is anticipated that charges will be levied against Mr. Drue, which equate to vehicular manslaughter."

"Back in the wild west, we just threw a rope around the tree, hanged them, and just asked questions later," Coffey countered. "I don't blame people for having outrage, but if he had no criminal responsibility then it would be wrong to charge him."

Murphy says he expects drug testing results back by the end of next week.