At long last, Spellman trial scheduled to start
By Aimee Kuvdia
Kevin Spellman, the former detective being charged in the November 2009 death of Kingsbridge woman Drane Nikac, will begin trial Monday, Sept. 24 in Bronx Criminal Court.
Mr. Spellman, who was 42 years old at the time of the incident and on his way home after a night of drinking, was driving a government-issued Chevy sedan early the morning of Oct. 30, 2009, when he struck Ms. Nikac with his car between West 232nd and West 233rd streets. Police said Mr. Spellman was off-duty when the accident occurred.
The incident raised some ethical questions regarding how police handled the arrest. Mr. Spellman initially refused both blood and Breathalyzer tests, so he wasn’t tested until over five hours following the incident, according to police. A civil claim being filed by the Nikac family alleges that the incident could have been prevented if other police officers who were with Mr. Spellman had stopped him from getting behind the wheel intoxicated.
Mr. Spellman faces 11 charges, and if he’s convicted of the most serious one — aggravated vehicular homicide — he could face up to 25 years in prison.
The jury selection process for Mr. Spellman’s trial began Friday.
Ms. Nikac’s family, who has attended every one of Mr. Spellman’s more than 20 hearings thus far, expressed relief that the wheels of justice are finally in motion. The trial has been repeatedly delayed for almost three years.
In August 2011, Mr. Spellman’s trial was postponed because James Goward, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case, was in the process of concluding another trial to which he was assigned.
Then in October and November 2011, the trial was postponed when Mr. Spellman replaced lawyer Robert Brunetti, who had been occupied with other cases, with Peter Brill, a Long Island attorney specializing in drunk driving offenses who is also employed by the Detectives Endowment Association.
In January, supporters of Mr. Spellman’s attended what’s called a 10-13 party — named for the dispatcher radio code signaling that a police officer needs assistance — for Mr. Spellman, which was held in a catering room at Rory Dolan’s restaurant and bar in Yonkers.
A previous version of this story erroneously referred to Ms. Nikac's age.