The judge adds lesser counts to the charges facing the Hopewell man accused of raping a 16-year-old
CANANDAIGUA — The jury will resume deliberating Tuesday in the case of a Hopewell man accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. Ontario County Court Judge Frederick Reed Monday introduced two lesser charges to the jury after closing arguments in the rape case against Michael Socciarelli. Lesser counts of first-degree attempted rape and third-degree attempted rape were added to the counts of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. The jury, comprised of eight men and four women, began deliberating Monday and is to resume Tuesday. If found guilty of the top count of first-degree rape, Socciarelli faces sentencing guidelines of five to 25 years in prison. Closing arguments were opened by Carrie Bleakley, Socciarelli’s defense attorney, who opened up quickly with the "disturbing" nature of the allegations and events involved in this trial. “There is a difference between being innocent and not guilty,” said Bleakley to the jury. "It’s not the conduct that’s on trial here.” The criminal allegations and the actions of family members paint a picture of a lack of value placed on the victim's safety. A video shows the teenage girl being encouraged to drink over five Twisted Tea beverages from a funnel. The victim at the time of the alleged rape was 16 and Socciarelli was 33. Socciarilli was with the teens at the party Aug. 18, 2018, in a Town of Canandaigua residence because he was in a casual relationship with the oldest of the family members, who was 18 at the time. Evidence shows family members and Socciarelli going into Walmart and purchasing alcohol. Newly discovered video shows them funneling Twisted Teas, with some of them smoking pot, until 3 a.m. In one video you can see the victim and Socciarelli with his arm around her, where he slides his hand down and squeezes her buttocks. The other family members presented conflicting testimony throughout the trial. The victim's older brother at one point stated under oath that he saw Socciarelli reach his hand into the pants and grope her. He also testified that after witnessing the act, he said and did nothing. “At one point you heard (the older sister hosting the party) say she was going to break a bottle on the face of the (victim),” said Bleakley. "At 2:30 in the afternoon the next day, thirty minutes prior to calling 911 you see in the video, you see her dancing and singing.” With the character of the family members fo the victim called into question Bleakeley addressed the more damaging evidence against her client, the video interrogation by New York State Police and DNA found in the underwear of the victim. She also said that there was no evidence consistent with sexual trauma or injury. Bleakley stated that the DNA can be transferred from one person to another and doesn’t need person-to-person contact and that there was also DNA from at least two other sources found on the victim's underwear. Bleakley argued that based upon New York State law you can not convict a person based solely on a confession. During Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts’ closing arguments, he went directly towards the disturbing nature of what unfolded that night. At the heart of the matter are the actions of the oldest family member, the host of the party, 18 at the time. “She’s (party host) got to come to grips with the fact that this stuff happened,” said Ritts. The party host, who was intimately involved with the defendant, had sat through the trial, after testifying, often smiling, laughing and conferring with her other family members during testimony. It appeared that Ritts struck a nerve with the host, as her laughter stopped and she left the courtroom in the middle of his summation in tears. “Socciarleli’s DNA was four times greater than anyone else in the victim's underwear,” said Ritts. Ritts also addressed the issue of the newly discovered video that at one point led to defense counsel asking for Reed to declare a mistrial, which he denied. "There's no excusing that video," said Ritts. "Don’t be happy about it. Its inexcusable."