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What you need to know for 01/22/2018

Drugged Schenectady driver gets extra prison time

Drugged Schenectady driver gets extra prison time

A drugged driver who fled the scene of a Central Park crash in 2010, leaving a 14-year-old girl with

A drugged driver who fled the scene of a Central Park crash in 2010, leaving a 14-year-old girl with a life-threatening gash to her forehead, was deemed Friday to have fled again — from his sentencing.

This flight will cost him as much as three extra years in state prison.

Mahlon Denegar, 22, 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 plea agreement called for a sentence of two to four years in state prison.

He was allowed to remain free on bail pending sentencing but then failed to show up for court twice. Friday was the third time and acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino had had enough, sentencing Denegar in his absence to the maximum allowed for the crimes he pleaded to, 31⁄2 to seven years in state prison.

Just as Denegar wasn’t there to help the girl he injured in the crash, which flipped his vehicle over, he wasn’t there Friday to hear her speak of the horror she went through that night, or the horror she has gone through since, with a fading scar on her forehead.

Monica Whittemeyer, now 15, read in court from a prepared statement, telling of the night of Nov. 17, 2010, when she screamed over a blasting radio for Denegar to slow down. She then told of waking up in the overturned car with the bleeding gash on her forehead and Denegar nowhere to be found.

Monica Whittemeyer had been out that evening with her sister and friends. The gathering over and it pouring rain 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.

Soon, though, Denegar sped off. Initially, he ignored their directions. Then he blasted the radio and ignored their pleas to slow down.

“I had no idea what was going on. I looked at my sister and told her I was scared,” the girl, now 15, told the court.

The next thing the girl remembered was waking up injured, the car on its roof. The man who caused the accident was gone. His passengers, though, were trapped.

“He left me there bleeding with my face still stuck on something,” the girl read from her prepared statement. In all, four teenagers were inside. They had to break their own way out.

At the hospital, Monica recalled being unrecognizable, the gash causing her face to swell. She also recalled a doctor telling her that the cut was large enough that, had she not gotten help when she did, there was a chance she could have died.

The gash left a scar on her forehead. The scar remains, and she wore her bangs low Friday. Now 17 months later, the scar has faded to the point where it is hardly noticeable to someone not looking for it.

For the teenager, though, the scar is still there.

She prepared her statement ahead of time, writing it out on notebook paper. Each new section was written in a different color pen. Monica and her mother gave a copy of the statement upon request afterward to The Daily Gazette.

She quietly read most of the statement herself. But, when she got to the impact of the incident on her life, the part about her scar, she became emotional.

“I hate having to look in the mirror and seeing a scar that reminds me of a traumatizing experience,” Monica wrote in blue. As she moved to the next section, a purple section, she paused to compose herself.

The sentence read “It bothers me when I go out in public and everyone asks me about my scar.”

But the girl couldn’t finish it. District Attorney’s Office victim’s advocate Stephanie Stuart finished reading it, completing the thought and the statement.

“I feel if I have to suffer the rest of my life with a scar on my face because of him,” Stuart read from a red section, “because he didn’t listen when I asked to get out of the car, that he deserves a longer sentence than he got.”

A warrant remains out for Denegar’s arrest. Once he is picked up, he is to be brought before a judge and then sent on to serve his sentence.

Denegar was represented by attorney Paul Callahan and prosecuted by attorney Brian Gray.

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