POUGHKEEPSIE – The six jurors and two alternates in the DWI trial for Poughkeepsie Common Council Chairperson Sarah Salem began deliberations on Friday afternoon and were dismissed at 4:30 p.m. without delivering a verdict. City Court Judge Scott Volkman will reconvene the court on Monday morning at 8:45 a.m.
The jurors were given instructions by Judge Volkman before beginning deliberations. The jurors seemed confused about them and returned at least twice with questions and also asked for a read-back of the testimony of one witness. The testimony will be read back to the jurors on Monday before they resume deliberations.
Earlier on Friday, the jury heard closing arguments from Salem’s attorney, Steve Patterson, and Assistant DA Ryan LeGrady.
Paterson, by law, went first and told the jury, “My client, Sarah Salem, is innocent until proven guilty,” and asserted that the prosecution had failed to prove their case. As noted earlier in the trial, the City of Poughkeepsie Police officer prepared the accident report incorrectly. The prepared version indicated the wrong direction of travel for both Salem and the other vehicle. Patterson capitalized on that in his closing, saying ‘My client was t-boned by another person. Sarah Salem did not run into the other car.” The victim testified early in the trial that Salem approached her at the scene and apologized for running the red light and striking her.
Patterson then tried to sway the jury by saying that the police were politically motivated in their arrest of Salem. The defense implied that the arrest was the result of stalled contract negotiations between the city and the PBA.
Prosecutor Ryan LeGrady started his closing by telling the jury that testimony from the victim of the accident noted that “She was lawfully traveling through the intersection when she was ‘introduced’ to Sarah Salem.” He then went on to point out changed testimony that was given by Salem’s passenger and friend, Kimmery Levering. The witness had originally told LeGrady the specific number of beers that Salem had consumed yet was “not certain” of the time they left the bar and a number of other points. He asked the jury “Did she have motive to be less than truthful.”
Stressing that breathalyzer results indicated Salem had a BAC of .09% which is illegal, LeGrady reminded the jury that Salem did not dispute that evidence.
With regard to the conspiracy allegations, LeGrady denounced them. “She’s (the victim) not part of some grand conspiracy that she (Salem) would like you to believe is going on.” He then proceeded to point out the basics refuting conspiracy theory, telling jurors, “The City of Poughkeepsie Police did not take Sarah Salem to Schatzi’s that night. The City of Poughkeepsie Police did not buy Sarah Salem beers that night. And the City of Poughkeepsie Police did not put Sarah Salem in her car that night.”