Mellissia Vincent was drunk and under the influence of drugs when she caused a single-car accident that killed an acquaintance riding in her Mercedes last fall, according to a six-count indictment returned in Fulton County Court.
The 39-year-old Broadalbin woman was arraigned Monday on the felony charges of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter. She also was charged with driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content above 0.08 percent, driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, all misdemeanors.
Vincent, who was badly injured in the crash, was released later Monday after pleading not guilty to the charges, posting $75,000 bail and having her driver’s license suspended. The arraignment came more than four months after the crash that killed 34-year-old Justin DePaula of Broadalbin.
DePaula’s family attended the proceedings Monday. Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said the family remains terribly distraught over their loss, but was satisfied that the case was advancing.
“Obviously this has been a very painful loss for their family,” she said.
If convicted, Vincent could face up to 15 years in prison. Eric Sills, her defense attorney, believes his client is innocent.
“We’re contesting the charges,” he said succinctly Tuesday.
Investigators said Vincent and DePaula had attended an event at the Broadalbin Hotel shortly before the crash on Oct. 27. They say Vincent was intoxicated as she drove her 2009 Mercedes at a high rate of speed west along County Route 155 in Mayfield. Around 2 a.m., she failed to negotiate a curve in the road, struck a sign post, sheared off a utility pole and plowed into an earth embankment, state troopers said.
Both Vincent and DePaula were thrown from the vehicle. DePaula was pronounced dead at the scene. Vincent suffered significant injuries but survived.
Sira said the time that elapsed between the accident and the indictment was needed to complete a thorough investigation and sift through all the evidence.
“There was a lot of work done by the accident-reconstruction team with the state police,” she said.