Yurich to stand trial today
Dr. Joseph Yurich’s bench trial on charges resulting from a fatal Berlin Reservoir boat crash in 2015 is set to begin this morning.
Judge John M. Durkin will hear the case starting at 8:30 a.m. in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Dr. Yurich, 38, of Poland is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of Neal Cuppett, 58, of Akron, from injuries he received in the May 9, 2015, crash.
Dr. Yurich, a surgeon, also faces charges of aggravated vehicular assault involving injuries suffered by Cuppett’s fishing partner, 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 were in. Prosecutors say that boat was lighted and stationary.
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.
Judge Durkin decided to exclude blood and urine samples from evidence in the trial because they went unrefrigerated for more than 62 hours before being taken to a forensic laboratory, which is a violation of state law.
The defense also sought to exclude statements Dr. Yurich made to Johnson, but Judge Durkin ruled they were admissible.
In the excluded post-crash sample, Dr. Yurich had a blood-alcohol content of 0.152, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08, a toxicologist reported.
The trial initially was scheduled for November 2016, but it was postponed to allow time for a defense expert to examine the two boats involved in the crash.
If convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, Dr. Yurich faces a possible sentence of two to eight years in prison. A conviction on the charge of aggravated vehicular assault carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.