Anger and porn have apparently played key roles in two incidents in western New York that have left two people dead.
The most recent occurred Tuesday evening on the New York State Thruway just south of Buffalo in which a trucker apparently beat his co-driver to death while the truck was in motion.
This week, New York police also announced that the driver of a tractor-trailer that smashed into a disabled vehicle killing the driver was watching a pornographic movie when the accident occurred.
The victim of Tuesday’s beating, Robert L. Hardy Sr., 43, of Miamisburg, Ohio, was driving when co-driver Rudy Arnette, 46, of West Carrollton City, Ohio, beat Hardy to death as he was driving through Hamburg, N.Y., on the Thruway.
Arnette was charged with second-degree murder and was remanded without bail after a court hearing Wednesday.
State police told The Buffalo News that it could have been a lot worse if the truck had not swerved off the road away from other motorists.
State Police Captain Michael P. Nigrelli told the newspaper that it was not known what provoked the altercation nor why the men who shared the big rig’s cab did not care for one another.
“There are some indications that the two did not like working with each other. Through interviews with company personnel, we were able to determine that there was a personality conflict,” the officer said.
Police said an autopsy determined that Hardy died from blunt trauma to the head and other severe wounds.
According to the newspaper’s account, when Trooper Mark J. Hufnagel arrived, he spoke with the unshaven and disheveled Arnette, who told him that there had been a disagreement between him and the driver of the truck.
"He did acknowledge to the trooper that there had been a confrontation inside the truck and that the driver was still in the truck," Nigrelli said.
The banged-up tractor-trailer had come to a stop against a tree line approximately 100 feet from the road after plowing through a cluster of other trees, police said.
Members of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation recovered two weapons that Arnette allegedly used at different times to strike Hardy.
Later, during an interrogation, Arnette reportedly made incriminating statements. "He was interviewed at length and did make some admissions that supported evidence developed by investigators," Nigrelli said.
Police said there was no indication alcohol or drugs had a role in the altercation.
In the earlier incident, Thomas M. Wallace, 45, of Brook Park, Ohio, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after an investigation into the Dec. 12 crash in Pembroke that killed Julie I. Stratton, a 33- year-old Snyder resident and mother of two young boys.
Investigators determined that Wallace was driving on no more than four hours of sleep and had been on duty for 27 hours prior to the fatal crash, in violation of federal regulations that limit the hours of commercial drivers, Nigrelli told the Buffalo newspaper.
And testing of the laptop found in the cab of Wallace's rig showed that it was in use and streaming pornographic movies at the time of the crash, likely causing a distraction, Nigrelli said. He also was found to be keeping a fictitious logbook.
"It's the culmination of all these factors brought together. We reached the conclusion that he recklessly caused the death of Julie Stratton," he told The Buffalo News.
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