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Massena man sent back to jail following preliminary hearing on vehicular assault charge

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MASSENA -A Massena man was sent back to the county correctional facility on a vehicular assault count following a preliminary hearing Monday morning in Massena Village Court, but his bail was reduced from $100,000 cash to $50,000.

Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson ruled the testimony presented by two witnesses and the village police patrolman who conducted field sobriety tests at the accident was sufficient to send the case up for superior court action.

Village police charged James A. (Alex) Berry, 21, of 36 Park Ave., Massena, with vehicular assault and a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated after struck Edward S. Remington, 46, of East Orvis Street, Massena, at 8:48 p.m. Aug. 2 on East Orvis Street near Woody’s General Store.

Court documents report Remington of 155 East Orvis St., Apt. 9, suffered multiple skull fractures and internal injuries, bleeding in his cranial cavity and several other fractures. He died the following day at the Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vt., where he had been treated for his injuries.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Andrew T. Botts called three witnesses to the stand during the hearing - Remington’s girlfriend, Kimberly Tassie; an eyewitness to the accident, Michael Hart, Louisville; and Ptl. Michael Flynn of the Massena Village Police Department.

Prosecutors are still waiting for the results of a blood sampleso Berry’s blood alcohol content is not available. But Ptl. Flynn testified he had detected an alcohol odor when he was talking with the Massena man. He said Berry told him he had consumed two beers and said he failed several field sobriety tests.

He had been arraigned Aug. 3 by Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow andbail had been initially set at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

Mr. Botts had asked the court to maintain bail at $100,000 cash, but defense attorney Richard Manning urged the court to release Berry under the supervision of the probation department.

“My understanding is although he may have one or two things pending there is no criminal record. He has every tie to the community you can have - he works here, he lives here, he has lived here his entire life,” Mr. Manning said.

He said he was somewhat surprised by the probation department’s recommendation that Berry be held at the county jail rather than release under probation supervision.

“It’s interesting probation would put a hold on him when he was supposed to have had a (treatment) bed made available to him six weeks ago and it still has not been made available to him. There is no evidence he is about to flee the area,” Mr. Manning stressed.

The defense attorney voiced his objection when the court reduced the bail to $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. “It’s still exorbitantly high,” he said.

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