An emotional defendant pleaded Tuesday with a judge not to impose extra prison time after he failed to show up for his sentencing on multiple dates.
Mahlon Denegar, 22, was sentenced last month in his absence to 3 1⁄2 to 7 years in prison. His original plea deal relating to Denegar’s flight from a 2010 rollover accident in which a 14-year-old girl was injured called for only 2 to 4 years in prison.
Denegar was due to be sentenced last month. After adjournments to allow his defense attorney, Paul Callahan, to try to locate him, acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino imposed the maximum sentence allowed, finding Denegar had already been given multiple breaks by the court.
Denegar tried to blame his absence on his attorney, saying he called Callahan but Callahan never told him the new dates. Callahan couldn’t respond to the accusations from his client in court due to ethical restrictions on the attorney-client relationship.
Denegar, who had been free on $10,000 bail, was picked up by police on a warrant last week after police received a tip that he was at his house.
Regardless of the accusations, and where Denegar was found, Giardino was unmoved.
“My feeling is it’s on him,” Giardino said. “It’s on him. Either he gets back in touch, he calls the court or comes to court. This defendant has been extended a month’s worth of courtesies. I warned him every single time.”
Denegar remained emotional throughout the appearance. At one point, he told the court he “had a lot of stuff going on.”
Denegar then cited his new daughter, who was in the courtroom with his girlfriend. “For the sake of my daughter, please,” Denegar said. It was the arrival of Denegar’s new daughter that helped persuade the court to initially delay sentencing that normally would have happened in March.
Giardino responded to the final pleas, though, that had Denegar followed the rules, he would have been out of prison before the child was old enough to realize where he was.
Denegar, formerly of Willow Avenue, pleaded guilty in January to vehicular assault and driving while ability impaired by drugs with a child in the car, both felonies.
His absence from court last month also ensured he didn’t get to hear the girl who was injured tell of the horror she went through that night, Nov. 17, 2010, and the horror she has gone through since.
Monica Whittemeyer, now 15, read then in court from a prepared statement, telling of the night when she screamed over a blasting radio for Denegar to slow down. She then told of waking up in the overturned car with a bleeding gash on her forehead and Denegar nowhere to be found.
Monica had been out that evening with her sister and friends. With the gathering over and rain pouring outside, she and her sister accepted a ride from Denegar, a man they didn’t know but who was a friend of a friend. He didn’t appear to be impaired.
The gash left a scar on her forehead. The scar remains, but thanks to the work of doctors, it has faded with time. Monica was not at Tuesday’s court appearance, but her mother was.
Prosecuting Denegar was attorney Brian Gray.
Denegar has one more court appearance before he heads off to prison. Prosecutors have moved to have his bail forfeited because he failed to show up for court. That is to be ruled on next week.