Investigators, experts testify in trial for man accused of fleeing deadly Collier County boat crash - 96.9 WINK FM

Investigators, experts testify in trial for man accused of fleeing deadly Collier County boat crash


The trial for the man accused of hitting a swimmer with his boat and leaving the scene entered its third day on Wednesday.

Jurors saw a body camera video of FWC’s lead investigator interviewing James Allen, the man accused of hitting Onofrio Sozio with his boat and leaving him in the water to die on March 5, 2020.

MORE: Trial begins for man accused of fleeing from deadly boat crash in Collier County

That investigator spoke to Allen at the Cocohatchee Boat Ramp, which is where Allen drove to after hitting Sozio.

Still from the video shown in court of Allen speaking with an FWC investigator after the crash.

In that video, Allen tells the FWC officer he had planned to return to the scene, and before leaving, he checked on Sozio, threw him a flotation device, and asked people nearby to help him.

Allen also said he didn’t call for help because Sozio was already getting help.

MORE: Jury hears from witnesses in trial for man accused of fleeing deadly Collier County boat crash

A close friend of Allen’s spoke to WINK News about the deadly boat crash.

“He’s a lifetime boater, and an expert boater, and a safe boater, and he just had a really bad accident, and he’s as sorry as anybody is about it,” Bill Petti, a close friend to Allen.

Wednesday’s testimony was all about expert witnesses and officials. The jury heard testimony from a Collier County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigator, the firefighter who pulled Sozio onto his paddleboard after he was hit, the lead FWC investigator, the doctor who performed an autopsy on Sozio’s body, a DNA expert, and a GPS forensics expert.

All were used to try and establish that Allen was being reckless and negligent when he hit Sozio in March 2020, driving too fast and close to the shore before abandoning Sozio and failing to call for help.

Allen’s friend Petti says the prosecution’s characterization of Allen is all wrong.

“He wasn’t running away. And he was any, you know, he was looking for the investigators. He was not thinking straight. And, of course, that’s what he should have done, just made that little phone call,” Petti said. “He’s just a wonderful family, man, you know, and we’re all old now. It’s just a shame to have to go through this for the family too. Jim is a wonderful guy, one of the most generous and best friends I’ve had for 50 years.”

The defense hit back particularly hard against FWC’s lead investigator, questioning why he didn’t personally interview witnesses, his recollection of surveillance video showing the crash, and his investigative choices.

The defense will continue to argue its case when the trial resumes on Thursday.


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