Charge dropped in fatal crash case



Published:

NASHUA - Michael Gorsuch told police he wasn't driving his friend's car, but they didn't believe him. He told them again and again, but they kept after him. Eventually, Gorsuch was charged with negligent homicide for the death of Daniel Rodriguez, 27, of Nashua, almost 15 months ago. Gorsuch's lawyer, Steve Levesque of Nashua, says the charge came about because a detective apparently misunderstood Gorsuch and believed he had incriminated himself. The case was pending in Hillsborough County Superior Court until Jan. 22. After failing to stop the defense from calling expert witnesses to testify that Gorsuch could not have been driving at the time of the accident, Assistant County Attorney Catherine Devine dropped the charge. County prosecutors did not return a phone call seeking comment on the case. Gorsuch, 30, of Manchester, was arrested early on the morning of Oct. 29, 2007, after being treated for minor injuries from the crash that killed his friend, police said at the time. A witness who came upon the crash found Rodriguez's new Scion crashed into some trees off Thornton Road. The driver's side door was open, and Gorsuch was out of the car, calling for help on his cell phone. Another man, later identified as Rodriquez, was sprawled mostly in the back seat, with his legs over the center console. Rodriguez was declared dead at the scene. Gorsuch at first declined to speak with police without a lawyer, but after a few hours in a holding cell, he waived his rights and spoke with detectives Kerry Baxter and Craig Allard, police said. Gorsuch told the detectives that he and Rodriguez had been at Sky Lounge on Amherst Street, watching Game 4 of the World Series, and left the bar about a half hour after the Red Sox won. Rodriguez was driving, Gorsuch told them. They had both been drinking, but Gorsuch said he had "quite a few," while Rodriguez had drunk just a few. They were on their way to Rodriguez's house on Ferncroft Drive, Gorsuch said. He remembered "flying" over a hill and seeing trees. The detectives didn't believe Gorsuch and repeatedly accused him of lying, Levesque wrote in a motion filed in court. After an hour and a half, Gorsuch told them he had had enough. Nearly two hours later, Detective Sgt. Thomas MacLeod approached Gorsuch and moved him to a different cell, Levesque wrote. He showed Gorsuch photographs from the crash scene and continued to question him, although noting that Gorsuch said he wanted a lawyer, Levesque wrote. Police reported that MacLeod showed Gorsuch photos of Rodriguez's car and "updated him on the status of the autopsy," and that Gorsuch then hung his head in his hands, and asked rhetorically, "Why did he give me the keys?" MacLeod misheard, Levesque said Tuesday. "He said to the detective, 'I wish he had given me the keys,' " or words to that effect, Levesque said. Regardless of what Gorsuch said, a judge later ruled that it could not be used as evidence because Gorsuch had made clear that he didn't want to be questioned further, court records show. Gorsuch was charged with negligent homicide, a felony punishable by up to 7-1/2 to 15 years in prison. Eventually, he was released on bail. He was indicted the following month in Hillsborough County Superior Court. After receiving autopsy and police reports in the fall of last year, Levesque hired a doctor, Robert Belliveau of Manchester, Mass., and Crash Experts, Inc., a private accident reconstruction company. Prosecutors had their own team of experts, in the state medical examiners' office and the Nashua police accident reconstruction team, Levesque said. Gorsuch's case was scheduled for trial last week. Devine objected to letting Levesque call his expert witnesses to testify, arguing that he had only just told her about them, but Judge James Barry ruled Jan. 9 that it was only fair to allow experts on both sides. Both the doctor and the accident reconstruction expert found that Gorsuch could not have been driving, court records show. Based on analysis of Rodriguez's injuries and evidence of the crash, Belliveau wrote, "There was absolutely no way that Daniel Rodriguez was the passenger." Gorsuch suffered only minor injuries because he was wearing a seatbelt, Belliveau concluded. Rodriguez was thrown about the car because he wasn't, the doctor wrote. Being charged with killing his friend and spending 15 months fighting a felony was a frightening experience for Gorsuch, Levesque said, but Levesque said he would advise Gorsuch not to comment on the case. "This was a good friend of his," Levesque said, referring to Rodriguez. "Although obviously this was a relief (having the charge dropped), this has been a hard experience on him." Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or awolfe@nashuatelegraph.com although noting that Gorsuch said he wanted a lawyer, Levesque wrote. Police reported that MacLeod showed Gorsuch photos of Rodriguez's car and "updated him on the status of the autopsy," and that Gorsuch then hung his head in his hands, and asked rhetorically, "Why did he give me the keys?" MacLeod misheard, Levesque said Tuesday. "He said to the detective, 'I wish he had given me the keys,' " or words to that effect, Levesque said. Regardless of what Gorsuch said, a judge later ruled that it could not be used as evidence because Gorsuch had made clear that he didn't want to be questioned further, court records show. Gorsuch was charged with negligent homicide, a felony punishable by up to 7-1/2 to 15 years in prison. Eventually, he was released on bail. He was indicted the following month in Hillsborough County Superior Court. After receiving autopsy and police reports in the fall of last year, Levesque hired a doctor, Robert Belliveau of Manchester, Mass., and Crash Experts, Inc., a private accident reconstruction company. Prosecutors had their own team of experts, in the state medical examiners' office and the Nashua police accident reconstruction team, Levesque said. Gorsuch's case was scheduled for trial last week. Devine objected to letting Levesque call his expert witnesses to testify, arguing that he had only just told her about them, but Judge James Barry ruled Jan. 9 that it was only fair to allow experts on both sides. Both the doctor and the accident reconstruction expert found that Gorsuch could not have been driving, court records show. Based on analysis of Rodriguez's injuries and evidence of the crash, Belliveau wrote, "There was absolutely no way that Daniel Rodriguez was the passenger." Gorsuch suffered only minor injuries because he was wearing a seatbelt, Belliveau concluded. Rodriguez was thrown about the car because he wasn't, the doctor wrote. Being charged with killing his friend and spending 15 months fighting a felony was a frightening experience for Gorsuch, Levesque said, but Levesque said he would advise Gorsuch not to comment on the case. "This was a good friend of his," Levesque said, referring to Rodriguez. "Although obviously this was a relief (having the charge dropped), this has been a hard experience on him."

 

NHBR Poll