posted on September 28, 2010 20:00
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman is a satisfied man today.
After presenting the people's case against Ronald J. Wendt of Alexander for the past week in Genesee County Court, a jury today took just two hours to side with the prosecution and convict Wendt of all 11 counts he faced - including Vehicular Manslaughter.
"We are very pleased by the verdict," Friedman said today following the verdict.
The case stems from a tragic accident in the Town of Darien, August 2009. The 25-year-old Wendt was driving his pick-up truck while intoxicated on Route 20, headed to the bar after a long day of farmwork. At the same time, approaching from the other direction was a car operated by Rachel Enderle, carrying three passengers - one of whom was 18-year-old Katie Stanley of Dansville.
Wendt told investigators he saw Enderle's car, but thought he had enough time to make the left turn into My Saloon. Enderle, meanwhile, says she never saw Wendt's pick-up truck, until the moment her car slammed into it.
Katie Stanley was killed in the resulting accident, and Wendt was charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Vehicular Manslaughter, as well as nine other charges. Today, he was found guilty of them all.
District Attorney Friedman says he's most pleased for the Stanley family, and for the surviving victims of the crash.
"We spent a lot of time with these people, as this case worked through the system," Friedman said. "They're very good people. There certainly is a bonding that goes on when you work with people who've suffered a terrible tragedy like this. It's a very good feeling to be of service to them."
As far as Ronald Wendt's conviction, Friedman says today's result should serve as a deterrent for every potential drunk driver in Genesee County.
"This case is really the reason why we have these laws (against drunk driving)," he said. "Everybody who's out there driving under the influence...is at risk of causing a tragedy like this.
"It's got to stop. And I like to think that some good will come out of a case like this, and maybe help get that message out."
Ronald Wendt faces up to 25 years in prison for the crimes.