Home / Trial begins for man accused of fleeing from deadly boat crash in Collier County

Trial begins for man accused of fleeing from deadly boat crash in Collier County

Reporter: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:

Opening statements were completed on Monday in the trial of an Ohio man accused of fleeing from a boat crash that killed one person in 2020.

It took all morning Monday to select a jury of eight.

James Allen, 78, is accused of leaving the scene of a boat crash that killed 57-year-old Onofrio Sozio near Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park and north of Vanderbilt Beach in North Naples.

Investigators believe Allen and his brother, John, knew they hit someone or something but instead steered the boat away.

Five women and three men were selected for the jury, which is made up of six jurors and two alternates.

All morning prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned about 50 potential jurors.

The only time Allen spoke in court was when Judge Elizabeth Krier asked him if he understood that he could be ordered to serve a 20-year prison sentence if found guilty.

“Well, I didn’t understand fully then,” he said.

Krier gave Allen’s defense time to explain his possible sentence.

The trial is expected to last approximately three to four days, according to Krier.

Witnesses say Allen, who was arrested by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, turned the boat around and tossed a floatation device toward Sozio before leaving the scene, according to an arrest report.

Testimony will begin on Tuesday at 9 a.m. The state says Sozio’s wife, cousin, and brother-in-law will be testifying. It is unknown if Allen will take the stand.