On Thanksgiving, at the Kane family dinner, there will be an empty chair.
Almost three weeks after Steven F. Kane died after he was struck while cycling in Calverton by a driver charged with being high on methadone with four kids in the car, his family reacted to the news that the defendant's bail was lowered to $1000 this week, allowing him to be home for the holiday.
"We are of course disappointed to her he is back on the street, but we have to have faith in our judicial system," said Barbara Kane, Steven's sister. "The district attorney is working to build a case based on facts and right now, we just don't have all the information available to hold him. He is innocent until proven guilty, so we will wait for the toxicology reports to come back and then we can determine what and how much of it was in his system to judge if he was impaired."
Kane added that despite their heartache, they believe they must have faith in the legal system. "I just truly hope that for the sake of all motorists and cyclists that he stays off the road this time. I pray that another family does not have to be impacted again by his lack of concern for the law -- the same law that is allowing him to be home with his family tonight, unlike my family."
According to Robert Clifford, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, defense attorney Joseph Cozzo, the defense attorney for defendant William Slatton, made an application to the court to reduce the bail, based on the fact that the office is waiting for the toxicology test results from the Suffolk County crime lab.
"We are waiting to see if narcotics were present in the defendant’s blood," Clifford said. He added that the assistant district attorney opposed the defendant’s application but it was granted by the court.
Two weeks after a car crash that took the life of beloved Brookhaven National Lab safety engineer and avid cyclist Kane, bail was reduced on Wednesday to $1000 for the man driving the car.
According to Cozzo, the Central Islip-based attorney for Slatton, 31, who was charged with driving while under the influence of methadone with his four children in the car, the bail was dropped from $10,000 to $1000, with bond at $2000.
Slatton remains charged with all misdemeanor crimes currently – DWAI drugs, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. The charges could result up to a year in jail. He has been held since the accident at the Suffolk County Correctional facility.
Initially, Slatton was held over the weekend after Riverhead Judge Alan Smith . Next, Cozzo said, bail was dropped to $10,000 cash, $20,000 bond.
In past interview, Slatton's lawyer indicated that the defendant had approximately $1,900 in savings.
With bail reduced Wednesday from $10,000 to $1,000, Cozzo said, "His family is attempting to bail him out now."
According to Cozzo, a toxicology report has not yet come back from the lab. "As of right now, there are not any more charges," Cozzo said. "Because the charges haven't been upgraded because of the lab report right now, it's just an accident. An accident that led to a fatality."
Slatton's next scheduled court date is Jan. 15.
Riverhead Police reported that Slatton was driving on Route 25 in Calverton, near the Calverton National Cemetery on Nov. 1 when his 2005 Toyota Corrolla – which was driving westbound – veered across the street and struck bicyclist Kane, a BNL engineer, former Coast Guard member, and recent grandfather.
Kane, an avid bicyclist, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
After the accident, hundreds of loving tributes poured in from Kane's family and colleagues, who celebrated his life.
Prosecutors said that Slatton was high on methadone at the time of the crash, during which four of his children were in the car. Assistant District Attorney Dennis Ryan said Slatton has been convicted of a felony in the past, as well as several misdemeanors. He also said Slatton has failed to appear in court on three separate occasions in the past.
Cozzo said Slatton is "extremely remorseful" over the situation, and said that the accident occurred while Slatton was passing a beverage to one of the kids in his car. Cozzo added that Slatton was on his way home from a methadone clinic in Riverhead at the time of the crash.