Courtroom erupts after man found guilty in fatal crash

GOSHEN – Minutes after an Orange County jury convicted Gregory Cardona of criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving in the crash death of girlfriend Ashley Martinez, months of tensions and resentment between the two families exploded into shouts and name-calling.

The fracas started Wednesday morning just after deputies led Cardona out of court to the inmate holding area, when Assistant District Attorney Matthew Healy stepped toward the rail to speak to Martinez’s family, who filled one side of the gallery.

From the crowd across the courtroom, Cardona’s stepfather muttered an insult at Healy, which set off a woman in Martinez’s family.

“We lost Ashley!” she shouted, adding an insult. “She’s dead! She’s dead!” the woman wailed.

Several court officers stationed in the courtroom for the verdict quickly stepped between the families, keeping them separated despite attempts by a few people to get at the other side.

An Orange County Court jury found Cardona, 28, guilty of criminally negligent homicide, a felony, and reckless driving, a misdemeanor, in the Aug. 30, 2016 crash that killed 25-year-old Martinez. The jury acquitted Cardona on the top count, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, and a misdemeanor count of driving while ability impaired by drugs, a decision that seemed to stun both families.

The verdict suggests that jurors did not find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Cardona was impaired by marijuana. Healy and Senior Assistant District Attorney Lorri Goldberg argued at trial that Cardona was high and driving recklessly at the time of the crash.

Cardona, 28, of New Windsor, faces up to two to four years in prison on the criminally negligent homicide charge. That time could run consecutively to the aggregate four to 12 years in prison Cardona is serving for violating probation on previous grand larceny and forgery charges.

The courtroom was silent as Judge Robert Freehill took the verdict, as the jury was polled and as the jury exited.

Goldberg asked the judge to order Cardona held without bail, and to return him to prison to await sentencing.

Cardona’s lawyer, Jaime Santana, asked that Cardona be kept at Orange County Jail.

“Mr. Cardona is remanded, and he will be returning to state prison,” Freehill ruled, and deputies led Cardona out of the courtroom.

Freehill called a recess, and no one in the gallery stood.

After a few moments of silence, the fracas began.

As the court officers worked to hold back and calm people, the woman continued screaming in grief and anger, tears falling. Shouting continued from a couple of people on each side. At one point, as the court security held back family members, Cardona’s stepfather stepped on a bench to reach over an officer. The officers, and it appeared other relatives, quickly got him down.

A few minutes later, court officers ushered Martinez’s family out of the courtroom.

Cardona’s family remained in the courtroom until court officers got the clear sign that Martinez’s family had left the premises, a procedure court security staff has used since the start of the case because of the simmering tensions.

Cardona will be sentenced June 5.

http://www.recordonline.com/news/20180321/courtroom-erupts-after-man-found-guilty-in-fatal-crash

Impaired Driver Mistakes Jail Booth For Drive-Thru, Orders Breakfast

A Long Island woman’s quest for breakfast ended in a jail cell after police say she drove up to a jail security booth and mistook it for a fast food drive-thru window.

Lizabeth Ildefonso, of Jamesport, N.Y., was arrested on March 16 after she drove up to the Suffolk County jail and tried to order a “bacon, egg, and cheese.” According to the Riverhead News-Review, the 44-year-old was told by Suffolk County deputies that she was really at a jail but kept demanding breakfast. Ildefonso “insisted that she really wanted a sandwich,” the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Officers at the jail noticed that Ildefonso’s eyes were glassy and she had a white powder in her left nose before performing a sobriety check. After “performing poorly” in a field sobriety test, the woman was arrested for driving while impaired by drugs. Police also noted that the 44-year-old was driving without a valid license.

The Sheriff’s office says Deputy Sheriff Yvonne DeCaro, who arrested Ildefonso, had just completed a course to help identify impaired drivers.

“It apparently was put to good use today although the surrounding circumstances were a little unexpected,” the Sheriff’s office added.

Impaired Driver Mistakes Jail Booth For Drive-Thru, Orders Breakfast

Deputies arrest man they say rammed deputy’s vehicle with stolen pickup

 

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 29-year-old Yakima man awaiting trial on possessing a stolen motor vehicle and domestic violence charges is accused of ramming a sheriff’s deputy’s patrol vehicle with a stolen pickup early Tuesday morning.

Bail was set Tuesday at $100,000 in Yakima County Superior Court for the suspect. At the time of his arrest, he had been released from jail as part of the court’s pretrial release program, which required him to check in regularly with court staff.

In the latest incident, a deputy had stopped a Chevrolet pickup for a minor traffic violation near Branch and South Wapato roads about 12:10 a.m., according to court documents. When the deputy learned the truck had been reported stolen in Yakima, he tried to get the driver to step out of the vehicle, but the suspect instead drove off, a probable-cause affidavit said.

Deputies and Washington State Patrol, Wapato and Yakama Nation Tribal police officers joined the pursuit, the affidavit said, with speeds reaching 70 mph. The truck stopped on Progressive Road, and the driver then rammed the back of the truck into a deputy’s vehicle, court records said.

The truck became high-centered on the deputy’s hood, as the suspect continued to gun the engine, the affidavit said.

Authorities said the suspect tried to bite deputies as they took him into custody. One of the deputies used a Taser stun gun twice to subdue the suspect, the affidavit said.

The deputy’s vehicle was rendered inoperable, but no deputies had any injuries requiring medical care, according to the sheriff’s office.

The suspect is being held on suspicion of first- and third-degree assault, eluding police, possessing a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest, driving under the influence of intoxicants and third-degree driving with a suspended license.

https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/crime_and_courts/yakima-county-deputies-arrest-man-they-say-rammed-deputy-s/article_77db9268-26c4-11e8-a46e-7f7a090796d5.html

Hit-and-run driver pinned dad between cars in parking lot

Mohammed Fawad Mohammadi, 27, told the Portland Tribune that he was visiting Oregon’s coastline with his wife and infant son on March 6 when got involved in a minor car accident in a Walgreens parking lot in Lincoln City.

After Mohammadi and his wife got out of their car, police said the other driver, identified as Perry Nicolopoulous, 68, put his car in reverse and backed up toward the couple for a second time while their young son was still inside their vehicle. Mohammadi said he pushed his wife away but was pinned between the two vehicles.

Police said Nicolopoulous then drove toward Mohammadi again, striking his car a third time as he managed to roll away.

“I called to my wife to grab the baby and run,” he told the Portland Tribune. “She acted quickly, but our car was rammed three times with the baby inside. I’m so lucky they’re both OK.”

Mohammadi was flown by helicopter to a trauma center in Portland, where he underwent surgery to repair his leg, which was severely crushed, according to a GoFundMe campaign created by a coworker to help offset his lofty medical expenses.

“Currently it appears that he is suffering from the crushed leg, broken hips, fractured spine and numerous facial injuries,” according to the website, which garnered more than $33,000 in donations as of Wednesday. “At this writing he is undergoing a second surgery to save the leg. The doctors have prepared him for the high likelihood that the surgery will not be successful.”

Peter Sollom, director of the Palisades Market grocery store in Lake Oswego, where Mohammadi works, said Mohammadi immigrated to the United States nearly three years ago from his native Afghanistan, where he worked as an interpreter for the US military for four years. He was also known to customers and colleagues as the “soup king” due to his affinity for tinkering with some of the recipes at the grocery store.

Stephanie Ballard Agramonte, who started the GoFundMe page, said many staffers at the location were angry when they learned of the hit-and-run accident.

“The evening we got the details on what happened, so many people had the same reaction: ‘People are horrible. Can you believe what people will do?’” Agramonte told the Portland Tribune.

Investigators believe the crash was an “intentional act,” Jason Palmer, a spokesperson for the Lincoln City Police Department, told The Oregonian on Tuesday.

Nicolopoulos was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was later additionally charged with attempted murder and assault. He remains in custody at the Lincoln County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. He’s scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, The Oregonian reports.

Palmer said there’s no indication thus far that the deliberate attack constituted a hate crime, although investigators had not yet determined a motive.

“It appears that the victim was random,” Palmer said. “We find no connection between these two individuals.”

Mohammadi, meanwhile, expects to be hospitalized for another month, and full recovery might come within six months, he said. For now, he’s enjoying well-wishes from strangers and the love of his wife and young son.

“I feel so great when I saw all of my friends coming in, people coming to say hi and to relax with me,” he told the Portland Tribune. “Even people I don’t know, seeing them say nice things about me on Facebook. They wrote things wishing me health. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

https://nypost.com/2018/03/14/hit-and-run-driver-pinned-dad-between-cars-in-parking-lot-cops/

Woman had drugs in system in fatal Interstate crash

Amanda Runtz