Oscar Lopez was sentenced yesterday in Schenectady County Court to serve 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison for causing the death of Amanda Slaven on November 1, 2020, on Hamburg Street in the Town of Rotterdam. Lopez (DOB: 08/06/89, a resident of 1st Avenue in Rotterdam) was convicted of three counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a class B non-violent felony, after a two-week non-jury trial before the Honorable Matthew J. Sypniewski. In imposing this sentence, Judge Sypniewski noted that it was the maximum he could impose by law and that if he could give him more time he would have done so.
On November 1, 2020, at approximately 12:20 am, and after a Halloween in which Lopez attended private parties in Albany where he became intoxicated and impaired by cocaine and marihuana, he drove his approximately three-ton truck (with a motorcycle lashed to the bed) at speeds accelerating to 94 mph (in a 35 mph zone) in the oncoming lane, where he collided head on with Ms. Slaven’s small SUV just after she had turned onto Hamburg Street. Amanda Slaven, a single mother of an 8 year-old son, was pronounced dead at the scene, while Mr. Lopez was briefly hospitalized for observation at Albany Medical Center. Blood drawn at the hospital revealed that Lopez had a blood alcohol content of .20 and also showed the active metabolites of both cocaine and THC.
The three different convictions required findings that Lopez engaged in reckless driving that caused the death of another while intoxicated or impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs. The crimes were elevated to convictions for aggravated vehicular homicide because Lopez had a blood alcohol content of .18 or greater, had a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated within 10 years (1/10/2020 from Albany County), and his license to drive had been revoked due to his prior DWI.
District Attorney Robert M. Carney, who tried this case before Judge Sypniewski, cited the prior conviction of Lopez when he led police on a chase and was clocked by an Albany County Deputy Sheriff at a speed of 105 mph as he left the roadway on Washington Avenue Extension. Leaving his girlfriend strapped into her seat with a leg wound, Lopez fled the vehicle and was only apprehended after the deputy tased him. In asking for the maximum sentence Carney cited his statement to an Albany probation officer on December 5, 2019, that he made a very stupid decision and had learned a lesson from his criminal actions, as an indication both that he had learned nothing and that his words are meaningless.
District Attorney Carney read into the record a written statement from Patricia Shadick, the mother of Amanda Slaven. In it she described Ananda as “independent, hard-working, and a go-getter” who was highly intelligent and had just been promoted in her job at the State Tax Department, and would do anything for her son. She said “there isn’t a night that goes by that I don’t have thoughts of the accident, and whether she knew what was happening and if she felt any pain.”
Also addressing the court was Amanda’s stepmother Kelly Slaven who delivered her remarks while Amanda’s father John Slaven held up a photograph of Amanda’s headstone. She called Lopez a repeat offender who deserved a maximum sentence. She also noted that Amanda’s son would someday painfully learn that the man who killed his mother did so while wearing a costume of his favorite superhero, Spiderman.
In his remarks, attorney Adam Eggleston, who represented Lopez, spoke of his difficult childhood and unresolved issues of addiction. Mr. Lopez read a statement into the record in which he stated: that on November 1, 2020, “the unimaginable had happened, an innocent woman’s life was taken away because of my bad decisions.” Calling it a “tragic accident”, he apologized.
Judge Sypniewski would have none of that. Stating, “you killed her, and not the result of any accident, you caused it.”
Characterizing Lopez’s statement as “poetic nonsense” he said, “You should have stopped with I’m sorry.” “Nothing is unimaginable about what you did. It’s very imaginable and predictable.” Calling it “probably the most horrific collision this county has ever seen, the last thing it should be characterized as is a tragic accident.” He went on to say that this crime should be a violent felony with a maximum determinate sentence of 25 years and urged parole not to release him. He also stated that Lopez should never again be permitted to drive.
For further information, contact District Attorney Robert Carney at 518-708-3041.