In Schenectady County Court, defendant Mark Brodie (DOB: 7/14/59) of Schenectady pleaded guilty to an indictment that charged him with causing the death of Denise Guthinger, 68, of Schenectady on October 29, 2021 at 6:07 pm, when he crossed the center line of Route 7 near Shannon Boulevard in the Town of Niskayuna, and struck the vehicle driven by Ms. Guthinger head on. Another motorist whose car was equipped with a dash-cam recorded images showing Brodie’s car driving over a curb, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and driving westbound in the eastbound lane, before striking Ms. Guthinger’s vehicle. In addition, a 911 caller who called from the road related that he saw Mr. Brodie’s car stopped at a green light by Lishakill Road, blocking traffic and then lurched forward. Another motorist stopped at the scene to show officers a cell phone video he had taken earlier on the Northway showing Brodie’s vehicle weaving before exiting onto Route 7. One of the motorists who stopped to render aid was an off-duty New York State Trooper who trains other officers in the recognition of impairment by drugs and alcohol and who noted that the defendant appeared impaired. Ms. Guthinger was taken to Albany Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. She died of severe internal injuries and ruptures of her circulatory system.
Officers from the Niskayuna Police Department investigated this collision. Mr. Brodie was taken to Albany Medical Center where he was treated for superficial lacerations. Two samples of his blood were drawn. The first, taken for treatment and later obtained by a search warrant revealed that his blood alcohol content was .13. The second sample, taken at the request of the police, revealed a blood alcohol content of .10, but also showed the presence of three controlled substances: Xanax, oxycodone and nordiazepam, at levels above therapeutic amounts.
Mr. Brodie was indicted for causing the death of Ms. Guthinger as follows:
- Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a class B felony in violation of Section 125.14(3) of the Penal Law;
- Vehicular Homicide in the First Degree, a class C felony in violation of Section 125.13(3) of the Penal Law;
- Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony in violation of Section 125.15(1) of the Penal Law;
- Assault in the Second Degree, a class D violent felony in violation of Section 120.05(4) of the Penal Law;
- Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Drugs or of Alcohol and Any Drug, a class E felony in violation of Section 1193.1(c)(i) and 1192.4-a of the Vehicle and Traffic Law;
- Driving While Intoxicated, Per Se, a class E felony in violation of Section 1192.2 and 1193.1(c)(i) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law; and
- Driving While Intoxicated, by BAC of .18 or more, a class E felony in violation of Section 1192.3 and 1193.1(c)(i) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Mr. Brodie faced the top charge of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide on the theory that he caused the death of Ms. Guthinger by driving recklessly while intoxicated and having been previously convicted of driving while intoxicated within the past ten years.
Mr. Brodie pleaded guilty to the entire indictment containing all seven of the above charges before Schenectady County Court Judge Matthew Sypniewski, who promised defendant that he would sentence him to a state prison sentence having a minimum of six (6) years and a maximum of 18 years. The District Attorney’s Office had previously offered that sentence to the defendant and the offer was withdrawn when he rejected it. Today, the defendant changed his mind and wanted to accept the withdrawn offer. The judge agreed that he would impose that same sentence if the defendant chose to enter a plea to the entire indictment, which he did. By doing so, the requirement of prosecutorial consent to the plea was eliminated. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on April 17, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. The People were represented by Assistant District Attorney Nicolaus McDonald. The defendant was represented by Joseph Litz, Esq.
This DWI related fatality came among a rash of other DWI related fatalities in Schenectady County, two others of which happened on the same stretch of Route 7. On July 15, 2022, Gina Hassan plead guilty to one Count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and one Count of Assault in the Second Degree, receiving sentences of six-to-eighteen years 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 October 12, 2022, Maureen Morrow was arraigned on an indictment including Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, accusing her of crashing her vehicle into another driver and killing her on July 17, 2022; that case is still awaiting trial. Also, on April 11, 2022, Oscar Lopez was convicted after trial of a top count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and received an indeterminant sentence of 8 1/3-to-25 years of incarceration, for operating his motor vehicle while intoxicated in the Town of Rotterdam and crashing and killing another driver.
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. We 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 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.”
Carney also stated: “I would like to thank Lt. Joseph Twitty of the Niskayuna Police Department who conducted a thorough investigation of this fatality. In Mr. Brodie’s car at the scene, officers found a rotisserie chicken that had been purchased 45 minutes before the collision at a Market 32. Working with Golub Corporation security, Lt. Twitty obtained video showing a clearly impaired Brodie purchasing that food at the Niskayuna Market 32. Lt. Twitty also put out a request for assistance from the public that resulted in two eyewitnesses coming forward, including the woman who recorded the actual collision. Lt. Twitty’s excellent work and collaboration with ADA Nicolaus McDonald were instrumental in obtaining these convictions.”