Sep. 19—LOCKPORT — A Niagara County jury took about an hour to find Nathan Marziale guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle incident Monday afternoon.
Marziale, 39, was tried in connection with the death of 28-year-old Amazon contractor Rafael Medina-Gonzalez, who was working on the night of Feb. 19, 2022, when he was struck by Marziale's vehicle on the 6600 block of Dysinger Road and carried on the roof of the gray SUV to Akron Road, where he fell into a snowbank and later died.
Marziale testified in his own defense on Monday morning and told the jury he did not know he had hit a person, he thought he had struck a deer. Further, he testified, blowing snow on Dysinger Road caused him to not see Medina-Gonzalez, who was helping two vehicles including an Amazon delivery truck get unstuck in a driveway and was standing on the road directing traffic when he was hit.
Other witnesses had testified to clear weather conditions on the night of the crash.
The prosecutors, assistant district attorneys Christine Savoia and Nichole Sands, spoke of three crime scenes involved in the case: 6694 Dysinger Road, where Medina-Gonzalez was struck; the section of Akron Road near Bowmiller Road where he fell off Marziale's vehicle; and Marziale's Lincoln Avenue Extension residence, where Niagara County Sheriff's investigators located him and his heavily damaged vehicle more than five hours after the crash.
Savoia's closing arguments focused on Marziale's guilty conscience.
"He left Mr. Medina-Gonzalez to die on the side of the road like an animal. He hoped he had in fact hit an animal, but he knew he had hit a human," she said.
Savoia argued that Marziale didn't stop after the crash, or turn himself in, because he was impaired by alcohol and marijuana and didn't want to face a DWI charge. By his own admission Marziale had consumed alcohol before the accident.
Further, Savoia showed the jury photographs of Marziale's damaged vehicle and Medina-Gonzalez's work jacket with reflective markings, and replayed select video clips from Marziale's conversations with the sheriff's investigators.
"As he himself told Investigator Hetrick, 'I don't know if I was in denial. I didn't want to believe it,'" Savoia said.
The last argument in Marziale's defense came from his attorney, Joshua Ramos, while the jury was deliberating.
"In the end, someone is dead," he said. "No matter what the court does, these are no winners, just losers. Everybody loses."
Marziale's sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 28. He faces a prison term of 2-1/3 to 7 years.
In August, Marziale rejected an offer from the DA's office that would have capped his sentence at two- to six-years in exchange for his guilty plea to leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
At the time, Savoia said since Marziale had rejected the offer, she would press for the maximum allowable jail time.