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Judge disqualifies Saratoga County D.A.'s office from prosecuting Lentini re-trial

January 22, 2019 06:50 PM

A judge has disqualified the district attorney's office from prosecuting the Maria Lentini re-trial.

Lentini was convicted of leaving the scene of a 2015 crash where she struck and killed Patrick Duff, who was walking in her lane of traffic. She appealed and was granted a new trial.

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Judge Jim Murphy has ruled that prosecutors gave special treatment to a prosecution witness in the case by not reporting that he was in violation of the terms of his probation. 

The judge ruled that the ADAs and District Attorney Karen Heggen had an ethical obligation to disclose to Lentini's defense, and to the probation department, that a witness who claimed to have additional information to benefit the prosecution was drinking alcohol in a bar. 

The prosecutors knew that the witness was not supposed to be drinking or in a bar as terms of his probation for a felony DWI conviction. 

Albany Attorney Lee Kindlon has been named special prosecutor in the case and will have the resources of the DA's office, but the DA and her assistants are barred from being involved. 

District Attorney Karen Heggen acknowledges the error and said she will not be appealing the judge's determination because she wants justice for Patrick Duff. 

"I strive every day to do the right thing. We will correct the situation that led to this mistake and continue to seek justice for the people of Saratoga Count," Heggen said in a statement.

NewsChannel 13's Mark Mulholland continues following this story. We will have a full report on WNYT.com and our newscasts starting Live at 4.

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Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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