UTICA – The Blossvale woman accused of causing the death of another woman in a DWI-related crash earlier this year, will serve at least six years in prison.
Jennifer Pritchard, 43, was sentenced Monday in Oneida County Court to 6 ½ years to 19 years in state prison. Once Pritchard is released, her license will be suspended for one year, and she will have three years of post-release supervision with an ignition interlock, which requires a driver to breathe into it and test their blood alcohol content level before starting the vehicle.
In May Pritchard plead gulity to aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated, related to a two car crash earlier this year. Pritchard was driving eastbound on Feb. 26, on Oriskany Street, when her vehicle crossed over the double yellow lines into westbound traffic, strucking a vehicle driven by 87-year-old Janet Moskal of Utica. Moskal died from her injuries two days later, and one day after her 87th birthday.
Marie Karas, a great-niece of Moskal, addressed Pritchard describing the family's loss and the life her great-aunt lived. Karas said Moskal was born in Poland and immigrated to Utica in 1931. She worked for Joseph Feiss and Son, a clothing company in the area, until her retirement. Moskal didn't have any children of her own but "acted as a pseudo mother and grandmother for all of the children in her family." Moskal often volunteered at her church and enjoyed making Polish dishes for others. Karas told Pritchard her great-aunt was not some random person that was killed, she was an aunt, a friend, a mother-figure and an active member of her community.
"As we mourn her death and believe that you should be punished to the full extent of the law for your actions, we also forgive you," Karas said. "Our Catholic faith tells us to forgive, it tells us to teach and most importantly it tells us to pray. As her family we pray for you, that you learn from this accident. We pray that you make changes and understand the impact that your choices have made. But most importantly, we pray that you can take an example from Janet's life story and maybe try to follow in some of her footsteps."
Pritchard made an emotional statement to the court and to the victim's family.
"If I could get back what I taken and I would," she said, as she wiped away tears. "All I can do is take full responsibility for my actions and words cannot express how very truly sorry I am."