A Hudson Valley woman with a spotty driving record pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, admitting to striking three pedestrians, including a beloved grandfather, on two separate occasions in Manhattan last year.
Orange County resident Jessenia Fajardo, 38, of Walden, pleaded guilty to felony counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, and a misdemeanor count of third-degree assault after killing 62-year-old Alfred Pocari, “seriously injuring” a second victim, and injuring a third person in a separate incident.
Fajardo had also charged with leaving the scene of an incident with failure to exhibit documents and three counts of violating the right of way of pedestrians and bicyclists before accepting the plea agreement.
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on July 19, 2019, Fajardo was driving a 2011 Acura RDX SUV north on West End Avenue in Manhattan, District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. As she approached the intersection of West End Avenue and West 98th street, Fajardo drove through a red light, at which point she struck Pocari and another pedestrian, who were in a crosswalk.
The two suffered severe injuries and were taken to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, where Pocari later was pronounced dead.
Fajardo has two previous unlicensed driving convictions and reportedly attempted to dupe the officers who arrested her, claiming the light was green when she blew through the intersection, authorities said.
Vance said that in a prior incident on May 21, it is further alleged that Fajardo drove through a stop sign at approximately 6:45 a.m. at the intersection of Desbrosses and Washington Streets, running over a pedestrian’s foot while also in a crosswalk.
Fajardo briefly left her vehicle after hitting the pedestrian, but then fled the scene without providing any information to the pedestrian once he said he was going to call the police.
"The death of Alfred Pocari, a beloved grandfather of three, was not only tragic — it was a foreseeable and devastating consequence of the defendant’s habitually reckless driving,” Vance said in a statement.
“Our laws are fundamentally broken when it takes the death of a fellow New Yorker to get a driver with a history of reckless conduct off the road, as is demonstrated in this case. Pedestrians and cyclists in our City and State remain under constant threat of vehicular violence."
Fajardo is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2021, when she is expected to receive a term of between two and six years in prison.
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