SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two jurors were dismissed by Judge Peter Lynch on the second day of the criminal trial of Nauman Hussain.
Hussain is charged with 20 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the 2018 limousine crash that killed 20 people.
The recent dismissals follow one juror being discharged before the trial could begin yesterday. Only one alternate juror remains for this case.
Before witness testimony could continue, defense attorney Lee Kindlon brought up an undisclosed federal criminal conviction from one of the witnesses, Lawrence Macera. Macera was the original owner of the 2001 Ford Excursion and originally modified it into a stretch limousine. Kindlon requested a mistrial yesterday afternoon after finding out about Macera’s criminal history via Google search and not disclosure from the District Attorney, Susan Mallery.
After discussion between both attorneys and Judge Lynch, Macera’s testimony was struck from the record. Mallery told the court his testimony was historical to the car and would not impact her case against Hussain.
So far, 6 witnesses have been called to the stand by the prosecution. Most of them spoke about their interactions with Hussain through his family’s businesses.
Chad Smith, an investigator with the New York State Department of Transportation, was the first witness to take the stand. He first noticed the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine involved in the crash at a Mavis Discount Tire in Saratoga County and flagged it for being out of compliance with NYSDOT commercial vehicle regulations in June 2017.
Special District Attorney Fred Rench asked Smith questions relating to his timeline of communication with Hussain’s limo companies and repeated attempts to set up a NYSDOT authorized inspection in 2018.
The court saw multiple emails between Hussain’s limo companies, Hazy Limousine and Saratoga Luxury Limo, relating to setting up inspection dates and notices that the 2001 Ford Excursion was not in compliance with commercial vehicle DOT regulations.
Smith described multiple attempts to inspect the vehicle between January and March 2018.
Once the vehicle was inspected, Smith says he noticed several problems and immediately took the limo out of service placing a windshield sticker on the vehicle that said it was not to be operated until repaired. Smith said he made follow-up visits to the car’s location in Saratoga to see if repairs were being made, or if it was being used up until August, when he was informed the car had been stopped by State Police on the road and that sticker had been removed. Then, he made an appointment for a second inspection for Sept. 4, 2018, just 32 days before the crash
The reports from both inspections list several of the same violations that Smith said required that limo to be ordered out of service, including a lack of DOT authorization and registration, malfunctioning emergency exits and issues with the brake system.
In March, the report said 25% of the brake system was inoperable and zip ties were used to hold some of the wires together.
Those issues were resolved by the September inspection, but there were other problems with the brake system that brought the vehicle out of service. Smith said Hussain did obtain a USDOT registration number between the two inspections, but did not have a state DOT registration number and there were also some inconsistencies with the business name he used and that it was registered under his father’s name.
Smith was dismissed at the end of the day. The prosecution is expected to bring more witnesses to the stand tomorrow.