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Former BU professor, ABC News correspondent Robert Zelnick found guilty of vehicular homicide

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  September 19, 2013 04:36 PM

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Former Boston University journalism professor and former longtime ABC News correspondent Robert Zelnick was found guilty of negligent vehicular homicide and sentenced to three years of probation this week, according to the Plymouth District Attorney’s office.

On the afternoon of Oct. 7, 2011, Zelnick, 73, of Brookline, turned his sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Route 3 and Clark Road in Plymouth into the path of a motorcycle driven by Brendan M. Kennedy, 26, of Plymouth, who was unable to stop before crashing into the vehicle and died from his injuries, authorities have said.

Zelnick was found guilty in Plymouth District Court on Tuesday of the misdemeanor vehicular homicide charge and was found responsible for the civil infraction of failing to yield, assistant district attorney Bridget Norton Middleton said.

In addition to the probation sentence, a judge also ordered Zelnick not to drive and to write an apology letter to Kennedy’s family, according to Zelnick’s lawyer, Raffi Yessayan.

Zelnick, a regular at the Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth, knew Kennedy, who worked at the Easy Bay Grille, a restaurant at the golf club, Yessayan said.

When the accident occurred, Zelnick was just leaving the restaurant, which he visited after playing a round of golf at the course. Kennedy was on his way to work at the restaurant.

“The whole thing was just tragic,” Yessayan said. “For Mr. Zelnick and his family, it’s really destroyed them, but it’s nothing in comparison to what happened to the Kennedy family. The Zelnick family’s hearts go out to the Kennedy family. They hope that someday they will be able to go on.”

Yessayan said that Zelnick, who is in declining health and who had his license revoked immediately after being charged, has not driven since the incident and will not drive again.

The attorney said that Zelnick was not speeding or under the influence of any substances at the time of the accident, but was found to be negligent because, “given his health condition at the time, he should not have been operating a vehicle.”

Yessayan declined to comment on Zelnick’s condition.

In a prior interview with the Globe, Zelnick acknowledged he has Parkinson’s disease, but said it “absolutely in no way’’ impairs his driving ability.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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