Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- 82-year old Vincent Russo was on his way to church when he died two years ago, after a head-on crash with a serial drunk driver. Michael Iannettoni went to prison for Vehicular Manslaughter. This month, that conviction was thrown out.
The victim’s brother, Paul Russo, is now fighting to keep records of his conviction open to the public.
“What happened...happened unfortunately, and it should be there for my grandkids to see someday. If it was overturned like it never happened and the records sealed, that's a travesty,” Paul told NewsChannel 9.
Iannettoni filed an appeal, but later died. Without an opportunity to hear the case, the state's appellate court ordered a judge to overturn the conviction. Defense Attorney John Cirando is pushing to have the case files sealed; a move prosecutors say they'll fight.
For Russo's family, there is a lingering sense of loss, time with a loved one they say was stolen. Now, there’s also anger that the legal system threatens to take back the only measure of justice they've had -- a public record.
“I'm going to discuss this with Senator DeFrancisco, who is sponsoring a bill called Vincent's Law. I'll explain to him what transpired and see if a statute can be drafted, with a law passed to prevent this from happening,” Paul said.
Iannettoni’s attorney says, legally, the court did the right thing by overturning the conviction since his client died before the appeal was heard. As for sealing the files, the judge will address that decision next week.