MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A jury has acquitted a postal worker of leaving the scene of an accident after fatally running over the sister-in-law of Alan Dershowitz.
Ian Clement, 64, walked out of the courtroom Thursday after the verdict, which came after a few hours of deliberation.
"My sympathies lie with the Dershowitz family," Clement said outside the court, according to the New York Post.
Clement would have faced up to seven years if convicted of leaving the scene after crushing Marilyn Dershowitz July 2, 2011, while she rode across 29th street near Ninth Avenue.
He maintained his innocence throughout the trial, even taking the stand to tell jurors firsthand that he didn’t know he was involved in an accident.
Clement has admitted to stopping his truck after feeling a “bump” and hearing honking horns, but says he never saw Dershowitz, the sister-in-law of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, or had any idea she lay dying on the road behind him.
His defense lawyer, John Arlia, has argued that the crash was a tragic accident. He added that Clement, a father of two with a clean record, would likely have never been charged if Dershowitz family hadn't pressured the DA's office to bring charges against him.
"My client is relieved, that's the perfect word," said Arlia, reiterating his sympathy for the Dershowitz family.
Prosecutors claimed Clement, a 28-year veteran of the postal service, ignored screams, stopped traffic and honking horns before driving off.
“We respect the jury’s verdict," District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.
However, the office said incidents of people leaving the scene of a fatal crime is on the rise, with 127 incidents that led to charges in 2012, 33 of which involved "serious injury or death."
The number was "a significant increase from previous years," the office said.
"Far too many cyclists and pedestrians are killed in crashes with motorists each year, in every borough of our city ... We will continue to file charges where we believe the evidence merits them, and do everything we can as an office to make our streets safer for everyone.”
Dershowitz' husband, Nathan Dershowitz, said Thursday that he respected the jury's decision, but "what distresses me is that I think that certain things could have been done differently."
Dershowitz was a block ahead of his wife when he turned and realized she was behind him. When he returned, she was lying in the street. He said Thursday that he had concerns about the way the DA's office handled the case. Dershowitz and his brother, Alan Dershowitz, reportedly pressed the office to bring charges after prosecutors initially declined to do so.
"I believe that was a terrible strategic mistake," Dershowitz said Thursday, speaking of the DA's office's hesitation. He added that he thought the jury needed to have seen a closer-up image of the truck at the time of the accident and said the prosecutor on the trial could have done more to convince the jury that anyone in Clemens' position would have reasonably known that they had hit a person.
"The question wasn't whether Mr. Clemens knew but if he had cause to know," Dershowitz said.