Dennis S. Drue pleads guilty to all 58 counts in the indictment-the same result as if the jury had returned a verdict of guilty on all the counts in the indictment.
September 27, 2013
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, III announced today that the defendant, DENNIS S. DRUE, a/k/a Dennis S. Toomer (dob 6/29/1990), of Clifton Park, pleaded guilty to all 58 of counts of the indictment (52 of which are felonies). The top count being that of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a “B” violent felony, in violation of Section 125.14(4), in Saratoga County Court before Honorable Jerry J. Scarano.
The conviction arose out of a car crash where the defendant crashed into and caused the death of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, and also caused serious physical injury to Bailey Wind and Matthew Hardy, on December 1, 2012 on the Northway in the Town of Halfmoon.
Drue had been drinking at Koto Restaurant in Colonie where it was determined that he had 4 shots of alcohol, gin and tonics, and beers. He proceeded up the Northway toward Saratoga County when he began texting another person while driving. As he approached what was to become the crime scene, his speed was approaching 80 miles per hour, as later confirmed by the NYSP accident reconstruction experts and eye witnesses. He slammed into the back of a vehicle driven by Christopher Stewart, with passengers Bailey Wind, Matt Hardy and Deanna Rivers. Stewart and Rivers were killed while Wind and Hardy suffered serious injuries. It was later determined that Drue had the active byproduct of marijuana THC in his blood stream in an extremely high quantity (8.4 nanograms/milliliter). At this level it would affect his reaction time and ability to control his muscle movement. After the crash, while he could see the vehicle occupied by the 4 kids in the median which he had just crashed into and forced off the road, NYSP reports indicated that he asked only about his own condition and the condition of his vehicle. In fact while he was at the scene he never asked about the condition of the people in the car that he had just rear ended and forced off the road. The eye witnesses to the crash noted that the defendant never utilized his brakes prior to impact. A computer chip was removed from the Volvo the defendant was driving and shipped to Sweden in order for Volvo authorized experts to examine and provide details as to the information the chip stored prior to impact and the report confirmed the vehicle’s speed at roughly 80 mph.
Murphy said, “We refused to engage in any form of plea bargaining at this late stage in the case. The family and my office were ready for the jury selection to begin Monday. By Drue pleading to 58 charges, he throws himself at the mercy of the court for sentencing. We can recommend, but not control sentencing. It seems the judge is going to impose a sentence that is at least 5 to 15 years, but perhaps less than we would like. At this point the 4 families and my office are thinking about the number of years that we will try to persuade the judge that we think is appropriate for Drue to spend in prison and why. Drue’s conduct has forever changed the Stewart, Rivers, Wind and Hardy families and we need to make sure that the sentence imposed acts as a punishment, deterrent and serves the interests of justice. We have a lot to consider before we make a recommendation to the judge. We know Judge Scarano will listen to everyone and then make his decision as he always does based on what he believes to be fair, appropriate and on the law. ”
Murphy said “ADA Jim Davis and ADA Patrick Campion, Crime Victim Specialists Erin Pierone and Kim Bryden, Inv. Ben Moran and the men and women of the NYSP lived and breathed this case for 10 months exhausting every lead and tracking down every witness. Today’s conviction of Drue only reaffirms my belief that justice does prevail if you have dedicated public servants who set aside their own agenda to seek the truth. The families of these kids can be proud to know that it was our honor to have worked with them and their interests in mind on this important case.”
Murphy said “Drue’s conviction shows that if you combine alcohol, marijuana, texting and speeding in a car unfortunately you can expect only one outcome for your future: prison. Drue will go to prison for the death of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers and for causing serious injury to Bailey Wind and Matt Hardy. How ironic that he would plead on the day of the Shenendehowa Homecoming football game. A day that was such an important day for these 4 completely innocent kids who were doing nothing wrong as they drove home well within the speed limit on their way home from a basketball game.”
Sentencing has been scheduled for December 5, 2103 at which time the DA’s office will ask the judge to impose a sentence of some amount of time more than 5 to 15 years. It is also anticipated that the judge will allow 1 representative from each family member to speak.
Hon. James A. Murphy, III
Saratoga County District Attorney
Director and Past Chair
NYS District Attorney’s Association
25 West High Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
DA website: www.jimmurphyda.com
Follow me on Twitter: @JimMurphyIII