Zambito reaffirms high bail for woman charged in fatal hit-and-run, cites significant flight risk
A woman accused of driving drunk, fatally hitting an 18-year-old on Sumner Road in Darien, fleeing the scene, and not telling police about it later when she was arrested after nearly striking a Sheriff's patrol vehicle, was in court today with a pair of new, sharply dressed attorneys from Buffalo.
Frank LoTempio tried to convince Judge Charles Zambito, that his client, Jennifer L. Serrano, 48, of Charles Street, Irving, should get her bail reduced.
She was indicted by a grand jury this week on second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, DWI, and aggravated unlicensed operation. She faces a prison term of up to 14 years.
She came into court shackled and in a tan Niagara County Jail jumpsuit, still in custody on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond.
LoTempio argued that Serrano has strong local ties. He said she owns a home in Irving that is worth $115,000 and she has $30,000 equity in the property, that she owns her own business -- Jenny Marketing Group -- and has four significant clients, and that she has joint custody of her three children -- ages 12 through 21.
"She's very involved in their lives and she's a very good mother," LoTempio said.
While she has suffered from depression, LoTempio said he and co-attorney Jack Sanchez had met with her and felt she had no current mental health issues. He said her depression stemmed from her divorce a year and a half ago.
She also has no prior criminal record.
"I feel cash bail of $25,000 to $40,000 is reasonable," LoTempio said.
Zambito heard these same arguments the last time Serrano appeared in court but District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he felt it necessary to address the counter-argument to LoTempio's assertions.
While Serrano claims to own a house in Irving, there's no proof of its value or her equity in it, and she says if she's out of jail, she's going to live with her sister in Amherst. Also, she claims to own a business but Friedman has seen no documentation to prove that she does.
As for her children, "According to our investigation, we're told they are estranged from her," Friedman said.
He also said he doesn't believe her attorneys are qualified to assess her mental health.
As for the crime itself, Friedman said, she's accused of killing Connor Lynskey, of Hinckley, on Sumner Road, on Aug. 11, and fleeing the scene. Lynskey's body landed in a ditch and he wasn't found until the following day. About 30 minutes later, Serrano's vehicle was stopped after she nearly struck a patrol vehicle on Route 77 and she was charged with DWI. Friedman said Serrano went through the arrest process, through court, through booking at the jail, and she never said a word to anybody that she might have struck a pedestrian.
At that time, police didn't know Lynskey had been struck by a car but he had been reported missing.
As Friedman completed this narration of events, Lynskey's mother, sitting in the first row of the gallery with a box of tissues her hands, began to sob.
Friedman also pointed out that Serrano went back to her car after being released from custody and drove to Amherst. He said his office has reason to believe she was still intoxicated at that time and she certainly knew her driver's license had just been revoked but she drove anyway.
"I don't understand how defense counsel can say she is not a flight risk," Friedman said. "She's already fled. Now she's been indicted and has even more reason to flee."
Zambito, in denying her bail reduction, cited many of the reasons Friedman just shared -- she left the scene and she didn't notify law enforcement even while in custody, and that her flight risk was a "significant concern."
Serrano is due in court again at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 15, when attorneys will address any motions filed in the case.