MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — After six years, Thomas Patti was convicted in connection with a crash that killed Cody Bensel in Monroe County in 2016. The long-awaited verdict, however, isn't sitting well with everyone.
"We are obviously very disappointed. We feel as though the jury got this decision wrong," said Nazneen Malik, widow of Cody Bensel.
Along with friends and family, Malik held back tears after waiting more than six years to hear that the man suspected of killing her husband by vehicle while DUI will only be facing a maximum of five years in prison.
"We are very confused of how they found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter and innocent of all nine other charges," said Malik. "We know he moved his body. We know he tampered with evidence and for him to be found not guilty of those charges is outrageous."
According to police, in November of 2016, the victim, Cody Bensel, was in the passenger seat when Thomas Patti crashed his Jeep near the intersection of Route 191 and Cherry Valley Road.
"Every case is unique, and every case is hard to predict, and this is certainly no exception," said Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Curtis Rogers.
The defense argued that Patti was not actually the driver of the vehicle.
The jury deliberated for less than 3 hours, acquitting Patti of several charges including homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and tampering with evidence.
Over the weekend, after the trial, Patti’s attorney Zak Goldstein emailed a comment to Newswatch 16. It read, in part, “We are disappointed that they found him guilty of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, but the jury clearly determined that Mr. Patti was the passenger by acquitting him of every other charge, all of which required him to have been the driver.”
Although the final verdict was not what the family was looking for, Malik says it's the first step towards closing the door on a tragedy that has been on their minds for too long.
"It is over, and we are one step closer to getting closure; the only thing that would make us feel better, guilty or not guilty, is if Cody were here and he is not, nothing will bring him back, so we are going to move forward the best way that we can," said Malik
Cody Bensel's friends and family say they will keep honoring his memory by holding the Caring for Cody motorcycle ride, which raises money for suicide prevention and other charities because they say that's what Cody would've wanted.
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