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Former BU professor found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in fatal crash

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, the Plymouth district attorney’s office said.

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 of his injuries, authorities have said.

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

A judge also ordered Zelnick not to drive and to write an apology to Kennedy’s family, said 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 golf.

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 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 said he has Parkinson’s disease, but said that it “absolutely in no way” impaired his driving ability.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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