Depew Woman Charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide in Fatal Crash

On Monday, February 1, a 26-year-old Depew mother had a felony hearing on charges related to a fatal September crash. Sarah Skotnicki is facing charges of criminally negligent homicide and third degree assault connected to September’s fatal crash in Depew. Criminal defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about the case. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.

Woman charged with criminally negligent homicide

According to WGRZ, Sarah Skotnicki admits to speeding on French Road in Depew to pick up her son. While on French Road, she took her eyes off the road and drifted into the other lane. According to a statement, Skotnicki then saw a car coming at her. The other car’s driver, a 72-year-old woman, died at the scene. Her granddaughter, who survived, was also in the car. Skotnicki has been charged with criminally negligent homicide for her role in the crash. Barry Covert explained to WGRZ what that charge means:

“Criminally negligent homicide, means that you failed to perceive a risk that was so great that your failure to perceive that risk can be criminal, so it’s not an intentional [act].”

Intoxication may not be usable evidence

WGRZ reports that police found that Skotnicki was under the influence of difluoroethane after the crash. Difluoroethane can be found in a cleaning product called Endust, which was reportedly found in Skotnicki’s truck. According to WGRZ, police are unsure of whether Skotnicki consumed the Endust before or after the crash. Mr. Covert told Channel 2 that this may have an impact on the case against Skotnicki. “If they’re relying upon what they found in her bloodstream but they can’t prove that that compound was in her bloodstream prior to the accident, then they would not be able to utilize that as part of their case for criminally negligent homicide,” he said.

Skotnicki has pled not guilty to the charges and is being held in the Erie County Holding Center without bail. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to between one and five years in jail.

About Barry N. Covert

Mr. Covert, a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.