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Emotional witness takes stand in manslaughter trial
Rochester, N.Y. - An eyewitness who saw an SUV careen across a playground and strike two children offered emotional testimony Tuesday about what he saw.
"I was telling the kids to get out of the way. It was too late," said Julius Lawson. Two children were injured in the crash on May 9, 2011. One of them, 7-year-old Sahmir Williams died.
Prosecutors say the man behind the wheel, James Bradley, was high on marijuana and should not have been driving because he also suffered from seizures. He suffered two seizures in the week before the incident but did not contact his doctor, said prosecutor Perry Duckles.
Instead, at 4:30 p.m. on that spring day Bradley suffered a seizure, during which his vehicle veered across traffic and stalled against a curb. As another motorist ran to the vehicle and tried to pull the keys from the ignition, Bradley stepped on the gas.
Duckles said the facts of what happened are not in dispute. He said what the jury will determine is "Why did this happen?"
Julius Lawson was called as the first witness. He was in the parking lot across the street from School 33 and watched as the stalled car suddenly lurched forward. "I'm taking off running for the kids, to get the kids out of the way," Lawson testified. "I'm screaming at the top of my lungs because the playground was filled with kids."
His voice became more agitated and cracked with emotion. "The kids were runningI seen that truck hit those babies," he said.
In opening statements defense attorney Richard Murajda called this "a tragic accident." "Not every accident is a crime," he said.
Yet prosecutors say the proof will show Bradley had marijuana and a sleep dug in his system. They say given his knowledge of his own seizures he should have known his conduct would put others at risk.
Bradley is charged with Manslaughter and assault. The trial is expected to last two weeks.