A Niagara County jury took about an hour to find Nathan C. Marziale, 39, guilty of Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Motor Vehicle Incident.
The incident, which occurred on February 19, 2022, led to the death of 28-year-old Rafael Medina-Gonzalez. Medina-Gonzalez was working as an Amazon contractor at the time and was helping to dislodge a stranded vehicle stuck in the snow on Dysinger Road when Marziale hit him.
Marziale continued driving with Medina-Gonzalez still on his vehicle’s roof until the victim eventually fell off. A passerby later discovered Medina-Gonzalez’s body in a snowbank, approximately two miles from where the initial collision occurred.
Marziale faces a potential sentence ranging from 2 1/3 to 7 years in State Prison. He is scheduled for sentencing on November 28 before County Court Judge Caroline A. Wojtaszek.
The investigation leading to this conviction was conducted by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and was prosecuted by Vehicular Crimes Bureau Chief Christine Savoia and Assistant District Attorney Nichole Sands.
Marziale, who took the stand in his own defense, claimed he believed he had hit a deer, not a person. He further contended that poor visibility due to blowing snow prevented him from seeing Medina-Gonzalez.
However, other witnesses refuted this, testifying that the weather was clear on the night of the crash.
The prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorneys Christine Savoia and Nichole Sands, laid out a detailed case that included three separate crime scenes: the initial point of impact on Dysinger Road, the spot on Akron Road where Medina-Gonzalez was thrown from the vehicle, and Marziale’s residence where law enforcement located his damaged SUV nearly 5.5 hours later.
Savoia, in her closing remarks, emphasized Marziale’s guilty conscience. “He abandoned Mr. Medina-Gonzalez by the roadside as if he were an animal. He may have claimed to hope he hit an animal, but deep down, he knew he had struck a human being,” she said.
The prosecution also posited that Marziale failed to stop or turn himself in due to his impaired state from alcohol and marijuana, hoping to avoid a DWI charge.
The jury was shown photographs of the extensive damage to Marziale’s vehicle and Medina-Gonzalez’s reflective work jacket, as well as select video clips from Marziale’s conversations with sheriff’s investigators.
Savoia quoted Marziale’s interaction with Investigator Hetrick, saying, “As Marziale himself admitted, ‘I don’t know if I was in denial. I didn’t want to believe it.'”
Marziale’s defense attorney, Joshua Ramos, noted during jury deliberations, “At the end of the day, we have a tragic loss of life. There are no winners here; only a sea of sorrow engulfs everyone involved.”
District Attorney Brian Seaman commented on the emotional toll this has taken on the victim’s loved ones, stating, “To say this was traumatic for Mr. Medina-Gonzalez’s co-worker and fiancée, both of whom witnessed this horrifying event, is a gross understatement. Marziale’s actions that fateful night displayed a complete disregard for anyone but himself. The jury’s verdict, thankfully, is an affirmation of justice.”