Maureen Morrow, 43, of Corinth, New York pleaded guilty today in Schenectady County Court to causing the death of Anne Burchhardt on July 17, 2022 on Route 7 In the Town of Niskayuna. She withdrew her previously entered not guilty plea and entered a plea of guilty to the top count contained in the indictment, Aggravated Vehicular Homicide in the First Degree. In exchange for this plea, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend a sentence to the Judge consisting of an indeterminate prison sentence of eight-and-one-half (8 ½) to seventeen (17) years of state incarceration. She will also be required to pay restitution for funeral expenses in the amount of $1,875, her license will be revoked for a minimum of eighteen (18) months, and after her prison term ends she will be required to participate in New York State’s Victim Impact Panel and Impaired Driver Programs should the Department of Motor Vehicles deem she is eligible. The People will also recommend that the court impose a conditional discharge for three years, consecutive to incarceration, requiring that she install and maintain an ignition interlock device on any vehicle she owns or operates during that period. Lastly, she was required to waive her right to appeal. Sentencing is scheduled to commence on December 8, 2023 at 2:00pm.
The original indictment consisted of one count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a class B felony in violation of Penal Law section 125.14(3) and lesser charges of: Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree, a class C felony in violation of Penal Law section 125.13(3); Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony in violation of Penal Law section 125.15(1); Assault in the Second Degree, a class D violent felony in violation of Penal Law section 120.05(4); Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, a class A misdemeanor in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1192.4; Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Drugs or of Alcohol and any Drug, a class A misdemeanor in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1192.4-a; and, Reckless Driving, an unclassified misdemeanor in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1212.
On July 17, 2022 at approximately 6:09 pm while traveling on Route 7 eastbound (towards the Town of Colonie) the defendant crashed her vehicle into one driven by Anne Burchhardt. Burchhardt was traveling westbound in the opposite lane of travel in the curb lane. Evidence shows that the defendant crossed over the turning lane and both opposite lanes of travel before striking Burchhardt’s vehicle. The defendant’s vehicle then jumped over the curb and struck a telephone pole where it ultimately caught fire. The defendant was taken to Ellis Hospital. Lab reports analyzing the defendant’s blood showed the presence of Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Alprazolam, Nordiazepam, Benzoylecgonine, Fentanyl, and Methadone. She also has a prior conviction for driving while ability impaired by alcohol in 2018 in Saratoga County and a felony weapons possession charge in Warren County from 2012. The victim died as a result of the injuries she sustained from the crash.
This DWI related fatality came amongst a rash of other DWI related fatalities in Schenectady County, two others of which happened on the same stretch of Route 7. Last year, Gina Hassan pled guilty to one Count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and one Count of Assault in the Second Degree, receiving a sentence of six-to-eighteen and seven years respectively, for operating a vehicle on Route 7 and crashing into another vehicle, killing one of the occupants and seriously injuring another on July 1, 2021. Earlier this year, Mark Brodie pled guilty to a number of charges, including Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Assault in the Second Degree, after crashing into a vehicle on Route 7 and killing the other driver on October 29, 2021. He was also sentenced to a prison term of six-to-eighteen years and seven years, like Hassan.
District Attorney Robert Carney stated as follows: “Since the pandemic, we have seen horrible cases of people making stupid and selfish decisions to drive while seriously impaired and innocent people have paid for that with their lives. Niskayuna Police Chief Jordan Kochan and I are additionally concerned about the safety of Route 7 in the Town of Niskayuna where we have had 4 traffic fatalities within a one-year span; the three referenced here and another motorcycle fatality that did not result in a prosecution. My office has been in in touch with the New York State Department of Transportation Office of Traffic Safety and Mobility to inquire whether an investigation is warranted to determine if the road can be made safer. These discussions will continue.”
The case against Maureen Morrow was investigated by the Niskayuna Police Department, with Detective Det. Paul Daley in the lead. This case was prosecuted by ADA Nicolaus B. McDonald and ADA Marlena Moreno. Stephen Signore, Esq. represented the defendant. The Honorable Richard B. Meyer presided over the plea and sentence.