Saratoga County

Lentini heads to trial for bizarre hit and run

Prosecutors say Lentini contacted friends and family by cellphone immediately after the accident, bu
Maria L. Lentini
Maria L. Lentini

A trial is scheduled to start Monday in Saratoga County Court in a bizarre case in which a Saratoga Springs woman is accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian with her car and not reporting it for more than an hour.

Maria Lentini, 31, of Circular Street, faces trial on one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident without reporting it, a felony charge that could send her to state prison.

Jury selection is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the County Courthouse in Ballston Spa.

Lentini is charged in connection with an incident on Route 9 in Halfmoon in the early-morning hours of Dec. 6, 2015, in which she hit and killed Patrick T. Duff, 30, of London Square Apartments, Halfmoon.

Duff, who was walking near the fog line with his back to traffic, was slammed into Lentini’s windshield. Medical evidence is expected to show he died instantly, according to the prosecution.

The heart of the criminal charge is that the crash occurred at about 2:30 a.m., according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, but that Lentini did not contact police until 3:44 a.m.

In September, Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III dismissed the most serious charge against Lentini, which accused her of first-degree reckless endangerment.

In dismissing the charge, Murphy said simply delaying reporting the incident wasn’t sufficient grounds to prove the crime of reckless endangerment. To justify the charge there needs to be other factors, and Murphy said there was no proof Lentini was impaired or intoxicated, drove at an excessive speed, or drove with “callous disregard” for pedestrians or others.

The judge also said that if Duff died instantly, the delay of medical response didn’t contribute to his death. Prosecutors had argued that Lentini couldn’t have known whether Duff was dead, so showed “depraved indifference to human life” in not reporting the crash.

Prosecutors say Lentini contacted friends and family by cellphone immediately after the accident, but police weren’t called for more than an hour. She told one friend “there’s a dead body on my car,” according to a prosecution court filing.

Lentini’s lawyer, James C. Knox of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, wasn’t available for comment on Friday. Murphy’s September ruling indicated there will be psychiatric testimony presented by the defense.

Lentini has pleaded not guilty, and is free on $20,000 bail.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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