Convicted After a Trial
A jury in East Hampton Town Justice Court convicted an East Hampton resident last Thursday on a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving, as well as a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. It was the first of two trials Justin Michael Hogan, 46, will face.
The prosecuting attorneys were Krystal Matos, who handled opening and closing statements, and Patrick Fedun, who cross-examined Mr. Hogan. The only witness for the defense was Daniel O’Brien, Mr. Hogan’s attorney.
Mr. Hogan was arrested on the afternoon of Oct. 14, 2016, after having T-boned a 2014 pickup truck parked at Two Mile Hollow Beach while driving a 1997 Chevrolet Suburban. Nine months later, as the case was reaching a possible deal, he was arrested by East Hampton Town police on a drunken driving charge after the 2000 Ford pickup he was driving veered off a curve on Pantigo Road near Skimhampton Road, crashing through a fence and striking a tree, according to police. The case is still open.
In the October 2016 crash, Mr. Hogan hit the pickup truck with enough force, according to the original report, that it moved three spaces closer to the beach. An emergency medical technician, Olger Arraya, happened to be nearby. He testified that he approached Mr. Hogan, who said he did not want medical assistance although he had suffered a blow to the head.
Mr. Arraya said Mr. Hogan then drove off in his damaged vehicle recklessly enough that two pedestrians had to jump out of the way. The car broke down before Mr. Hogan reached Further Lane, however, and Mr. Hogan took off on foot with his dog, which had been in the car.
At his trial, Mr. Hogan told the jury that he just wanted to get home, his house being on Wireless Road. Mr. Hogan took off with the dog, walking in a zigzag pattern, first east, then north, then west, before a police officer, Matthew Kochanasz, spotted him on Middle Lane. He was asked to step away from the road, and perform roadside sobriety tests, which he failed.
“I choose not to talk to you,” he allegedly told the arresting officer, who accompanied him to Southampton Hospital. There, as previously, he refused to allow blood to be drawn. “No one is sticking a needle in my arm,” he is reported to have said. One of the documents the jury examined during the trial was a refusal form.
As he was cross-examined by Mr. Fedun, Mr. Hogan began answering questions with questions of his own, until Justice Lisa R. Rana ordered him to be respectful of the court.
Ms. Matos, in her closing argument, described the zigzag pattern Mr. Hogan had taken on his way home, and asked the jurors if it made any sense. “The defendant has run out of roads to flee,” she said.
According to the six jurors, who spoke on their way out of the courthouse after the three-day trial ended, it took them about five minutes to reach a verdict. Each had written down a verdict in a straw poll when they first entered the jury room to deliberate. The four women and two men all wrote down “guilty.” However, concerned about rushing to judgment, they asked for all the evidence to be sent to them. After a half-hour discussion, they rendered their final verdict.
The jurors were asked what they would have thought if they had known about the second arrest. “It wouldn’t surprise me,” one said.