Judge finds Middlefield man not guilty of charges in death of motorcyclist

  • KENNETH DEJORDY

  • From left, Wayne Main, 74, of Middlefield, attorneys Luke Ryan, Leah Kunkel and First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne appear in Hampshire Superior Court on Friday morning for the final day of trial. Main was found not guilty of manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy, 22. —EMILY CUTTS

@ecutts_HG
Published: 2/16/2018 10:30:31 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A Middlefield man who prosecutors said was legally blind was found not guilty by a Hampshire Superior Court judge Friday for a motor vehicle crash that took the life of a 22-year-old Montgomery man.

Judge Richard Carey ruled that Wayne Main, 74, was not guilty of manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy. Main waived his right to a jury trial.

Main’s attorneys, Luke Ryan and Leah Kunkel, argued that the accident occurred because Dejordy was traveling too fast. Main was making a left turn in a GMC Yukon into the parking lot of Gateway Farm & Pet on Route 20 in Huntington when Dejordy’s motorcycle struck the rear passenger side.

Main and his attorneys declined to comment following the verdict.

Throughout the course of the four-day trial, First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne argued that Main knew he should not have been driving after being declared legally blind in June 2012 and that even without that determination, Main’s eyesight was not strong enough to pass a license test.

“Despite being dumbfounded and disappointed by the verdict, we hope this case highlights the dangers of visually impaired drivers remaining behind the wheel after they’ve lost their ability to drive safely,” Gagne said in a statement following the trial. “The fact remains that had the defendant stopped driving once he was declared legally blind in 2012, this crash never would have happened, and Kenneth Dejordy would still be alive.”

During the trial, several state troopers, two eyewitnesses, state employees and two optometrists took the stand to testify. On Friday morning, the trial resumed as the defense called its last witness, a Connecticut man who was repairing the sign for Gateway Farm & Pet at the time of the crash.

“I heard a motorcycle. It sounded like it came across the green bridge, that’s what we call it, then I heard the motorcycle accelerate, you could hear a lot of rpm,” Eugene Ivanov testified.

As the motorcycle continued down the road, Ivanov said it was still accelerating.

“I was turning my head to look at him, that is when the driver of the motorcycle smashed on the brakes,” Ivanov said. The motorcycle then struck the SUV.

When questioned by Gagne, Ivanov said he could see from the corner, or bend in the road, where the motorcycle first appeared.

“You had a pretty clear view of that motorcycle?” Gagne asked.

“There are some woods on the left, but I saw it,” Ivanov responded.

Shortly after the crash, Main told police he did not see Dejordy’s headlight until he already had begun to turn a moment before impact.

Closing statements

Following Ivanov’s testimony, attorney Kunkel gave closing statements. Kunkel told the court the case was a story of a few events “improbably” coming together to result in a “horrific accident” and “unimaginable loss” for Dejordy’s family and friends.

“The question is, was Mr. Main’s decision to make the turn unreasonable considering Mr. Dejordy was a football field away?” Kunkel asked.

She said Dejordy’s speed increased, and increased rapidly.

“Your honor, I would suggest there was not a shred, a shred of evidence, that Mr. Main was guilty of improper driving,” Kunkel said.

Kunkel also told the judge there was no evidence Main was legally blind at the time of the crash because testing done by an optometrist who testified in the trial was “totally irrelevant.” A test by a second optometrist conducted around the same time as the first found that Main’s vision did not meet the state threshold for legal blindness but was not good enough to get a driver’s license, Kunkel continued.

“On July 1, 1943, Wayne Main was born. Fifty years later to the day, on July 1, 1993, Kenneth Dejordy was born. On Feb. 20, 2016, they met in Huntington and it turned out to be the last day of Kenneth Dejordy’s life,” Gagne began his closing statement. “It was not an accident. It was inevitable because for years and years leading up to that day, Wayne Main had been making a daily choice to put his convenience ahead of the safety of others.”

Gagne told the judge that there was no denying Dejordy was going too fast that day and may very well have deserved a speeding ticket.

“Unfortunately, a death certificate was issued instead,” Gagne said.

He said the crash wasn’t caused by a miscalculation or misjudgment on the part of Main. Instead, Gagne described it as reckless in that Main knew his eyes were not good enough for driving.

Moments after Gagne finished his closing statements, Carey asked Main to stand and then handed down his not guilty verdicts.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.

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