Prosecutor Gains won't appeal exclusion of blood, urine in fatal boat crash case


The prosecution will not appeal a judge’s decision to exclude blood and urine samples from evidence in the trial of a surgeon charged in a fatal Berlin Reservoir boat crash last year.

“We have enough evidence to proceed without it,” explained Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains.

State law allows prosecutors to appeal only if exclusion of the evidence would prevent them from proceeding with the case, Gains said.

Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court excluded the blood and urine samples taken from Dr. Joseph F. Yurich, 37, of Hunter’s Hill, Poland, because they went unrefrigerated for more than 62 hours before being taken to a forensic laboratory.

Judge Durkin said Dr. Yurich’s statements to a detective are admissible as evidence, however.

Dr. Yurich is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of Neal Cuppett, 58, of Akron, from injuries he suffered in the May 9, 2015, crash.

Dr. Yurich is also charged with aggravated vehicular assault for the injuries suffered by Cuppett’s fishing buddy, Bruce Lindamood, 42, of Green, and with failure to stop after an accident and two counts of operating a watercraft while impaired.

The crash ejected Cuppett and Lindamood from the boat they occupied into the water.

Dr. Yurich told Lt. Greg Johnson, chief of detectives with the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, he was alone on his boat, didn’t see any lights on the boat he had hit, had “a couple” of beers before the crash and didn’t mean to kill anyone, according to a court filing by the prosecution.

In an August evidentiary hearing, Lt. Johnson testified he detected in Dr. Yurich no disorientation or slurred speech and that Dr. Yurich had no trouble walking to the boat dock after the crash.

Read more about the case in Wednesday's Vindicator or on

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