Woman who failed to report deadly crash asks judge to set aside conviction

May 18, 2017 06:17 PM

BALLSTON SPA - Maria Lentini remains free on bail following her November conviction for leaving the scene of the December 2105 crash that killed Patrick Duff.

In court Thursday afternoon, Lentini's attorney, James Knox, telling Judge Jim Murphy the conviction should be thrown out because the people failed to prove that Lentini left the scene of the accident.

"Essentially, the people attempted to shift the burden of proof to the defendant in this case," said Knox.

The Saratoga County District Attorney's office disagrees, saying the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Lentini left the scene and didn't call 911. Assistant District Attorney Gordon Eddy rejecting the defense notion that Lentini was too distraught to call police.

"Being mentally overborne by this horrific scene and the events that gave rise to it, Ms. Lentini was physically unable to report this accident to police. However, the proof showed that she was able to place some 17 other calls," Eddy said.

After arguments about vacating the conviction, both sides made their case for what Lentini's sentence should be.

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The range is as little as a conditional discharge and a fine, to a maximum of 2-and-a-third to seven years in prison.

Prosecutors are asking for 2 to 6.

"The defendant's decision to leave Patrick Duff's body impaled in the windshield of her car for an hour and 15 minutes severely impacted not only Patrick Duff's family and friends, but the community as a whole," said Assistant District Attorney Katherine DeMartino.

Attorney Knox saying Lentini was also a victim, "It's important when fashioning the sentence to imagine what it was like for the defendant to have lived through that night. It's something that she will never get away from."

Judge Murphy reserved decision on the motion to vacate the verdict and Lentini will be back in court June 1, possibly to be sentenced.


Mark Mulholland

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