With court breaking early for the day, only one new witness took the stand in Alexander West's trial on Wednesday. The Lake George man is accused of being drunk and high when he caused a boat accident that left an eight-year-old girl dead last summer. Matt Hunter has more on West admitting guilt to one of his 12 charges.
QUEENSBURY, N.Y. – As Alexander West’s trial reached the midway point of its second week in Warren County, Judge John Hall announced a stipulation Wednesday morning that West "knowingly and unlawfully possessed the cocaine found in his boat July 26." Agreed to by his attorneys prior to the start of the day’s proceedings, the stipulation essentially admits West’s guilt to the misdemeanor Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance count in his indictment.
"It has nothing to do with usage; it just has to do with being aware the cocaine was on the boat," defense attorney Cheryl Coleman said after court let out for the day.
One day after telling jurors she and West both snorted a line of cocaine while in the cuddy of West's boat during the July 25 “Log Bay Day” celebration, Montana Reilly finished her testimony Wednesday morning. On the stand for only a few short minutes, Reilly confirmed she and West used to be in an intimate relationship but are no longer involved.
“Is it fair to say there’s some animosity there?” Coleman questioned Reilly.
Reilly acknowledged there’s animosity between her and another girl who became involved with West, but stated she has no bad feelings toward the defendant.
Coleman told reporters the revelation about the pair’s relationship calls Reilly's entire testimony into question.
"Anybody that's got any potential for any bias, we're absolutely committing malpractice if we don't bring that out," Coleman said.
Wednesday’s only new witness was Dan Forshay, a friend of West's who also attended Log Bay Day on his own boat with his wife and a group of friends. While Forshay did tell jurors he saw passenger Matt Marry smoking concentrated marijuana while seated next to West, most of his testimony centered around his own drug use, which included snorting a gram of cocaine with his wife.
"[Cocaine] makes you feel energetic, more aware,” Forshay said during his testimony. “It makes me have a good time with my friends; it keeps you going."
While prosecutors seemed to be trying to paint a picture of a person's real or perceived state on drugs and their ability to maneuver a boat under those conditions, which West is accused of doing, Coleman points out that Forshay could not say for certain whether he saw West use cocaine or marijuana on July 25.
"Basically the whole tenor of the DA's case is 'everybody does this stuff at Log Bay Day. Alex was at Log Bay Day, therefore Alex must have done this stuff,' " Coleman said. "When push comes to shove, when people are asked 'did you see it?', the answer is 'no.' "
Shortly before court was dismissed, the Warren County district attorney told the courtroom she could finish calling witnesses to the stand by the end of this week. That would then give West's defense team a chance to bring in its own witnesses to testify.
Testimony resumes Thursday morning at 10.