Saturday, December 20, 2014

Suspect in fatal crash could face lighter sentence due to criminal history

SCHUYLER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The criminal history of a man police say was involved in the high speed chase last week that killed a Schuyler woman could mean a lesser prison sentence if he is convicted in the fatal crash.

Police say Daniel Conklin was speeding away from a Herkimer Police Officer after the officer tried to pull him over for speeding, and after seeing him shove a woman out of his moving car.

Conklin's car collided with one driven by 65-year-old Gail Pietruska on Route 5 in Schuyler. She died that night at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. Her passenger and sister, Louise Medallis, survived with less serious injuries and as of Tuesday afternoon was in good condition at Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica.

Acting Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter is looking into whether or not Conklin could qualify as a persistent felony offender. In order to qualify, one has to be convicted of a felony after having been sentenced to at least a year in state prison for two prior felonies, and they have to have actually served the time.

While Daniel Conklin was sentenced to state prison time for various felonies three times in the past four years, he never saw the inside of a prison cell. Instead, the sentencing judge gave him a 90-day stint in Willard Drug Treatment Facility all three times.

The persistent felony offender designation could mean a much longer prison sentence if Conklin is convicted of second-degree manslaughter-the charge the Herkimer D.A. plans to pursue regarding the fatal crash. The maximum for that on conviction is 15 years in state prison; for a persistent felony offender, the maximum could be life.

D.A. Carpenter is researching whether or not there's any way, in light of his sentencing history, Conklin could qualify.