Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced today that Kelly Leonardi, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded guilty to one count of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class “D” felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 125.12(1), and two counts of Assault in the Third Degree, class “A” misdemeanors, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 120.00(3), in Saratoga County Court before the Honorable James A. Murphy, III.
The conviction arose out of a head-on collision where Leonardi caused the death of her fiancé John Stevens, and also injured Michael DeFile and Mario Gonzalez, on July 14, 2019 on State Route 9 in the Town of Malta.
Leonardi had been using heroin and Xanax at her residence near Saratoga Lake that afternoon just prior to the crash. She left her residence and proceeded northbound on Route 9 near the Malta Drive-In Theater. As Leonardi approached what was to become the crime scene, she drifted out of her lane, crossed over the median and into the southbound lane, as later confirmed by the NYSP accident reconstruction experts and eye witnesses. Traveling south in the northbound lane, she crashed head-on into a pickup truck driven by Michael DeFile, with Mario Gonzalez in the passenger seat. Leonardi’s passenger, Stevens, was killed in the crash and DeFile and Gonzalez suffered injuries.
It was later determined that Leonardi had morphine (metabolite of heroin), fentanyl and alprazolam in her blood stream at the time of the crash. The combination of these drugs affected her reaction time and ability to maintain control of her vehicle. The eye witnesses to the crash noted that the defendant never used her brakes or attempted to avoid the collision prior to impact. The New York State Police investigation, led by Investigator Thomas Gibney, recovered heroin, Xanax, cocaine residue and numerous items of drug paraphernalia from Leonardi’s vehicle.
DA Heggen said, “Defendant Leonardi’s choice to operate a motor vehicle while impaired and under the combined influence of heroin, fentanyl and Xanax brought about a tragedy for all involved. Leonardi’s conduct has forever changed the Stevens, DeFile and Gonzalez families.”
Heggen noted “Assistant District Attorney Shawn Lescault, Crime Victim Specialist Nicole Lichva, Investigator Michael Wells and the men and women of the New York State Police tirelessly worked on this case for 8 months, exhausting every lead and tracking down every witness. Today’s plea by Leonardi is an example that justice does prevail if you have dedicated public servants who work tirelessly to seek the truth.”
Heggen further remarked “Leonardi’s plea today shows that if you ingest heroin, fentanyl and Xanax, get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and drive, the consequences can bring about horrible tragedy, as it did in this case”. Leonardi faces a prison sentence when she appears on June 3, 2020 for sentencing.