Schenectady driver gets prison for hitting man with car

Monday, February 3, 2014
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— A Schenectady man was sentenced to state prison Monday for intentionally running down another man with his car last summer.

Despite being thrown into the air by the impact, the victim suffered no broken bones or serious injuries.

Luis Rodriguez, 25, formerly of Wendell Street, apologized for what happened, telling acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino he hopes “everything goes well” for the victim.

Giardino sentenced him to 5.5 years in state prison, with three years of post-release supervision. He could have received up to six years.

Discussion in court Monday morning centered around a seemingly new claim by Rodriguez that he had temporarily blacked out, contributing to the crash. The claim was reported in a pre-sentence report from the probation department.

Prosecutor William Sanderson noted that Rodriguez originally told police that he swerved to avoid a car in front of him, hitting the victim as he did so. Then, when he pleaded guilty in December, he admitted to intentionally hitting the man.

Sanderson asked Giardino to sentence Rodriguez to the maximum allowed, arguing that Rodriguez wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions.

Defense attorney Brian Mercy argued that Rodriguez was taking new medication that day, which caused memory gaps and judgment lapses. However, neither he nor Rodriguez attempted to retract the guilty plea.

The incident happened June 1 on Eastern Avenue, near Walnut Street. Prosecutors said it stemmed in part from a dispute between Rodriguez and the victim, who was the boyfriend of Rodriguez’s mother-in-law.

Rodriguez struck the man on the sidewalk head-on then fled the scene, turning onto nearby Wendell Avenue and running into a house. He was found by a witness, who followed him to the house.

A street surveillance camera caught the entire incident and cast doubt on Rodriguez’s initial claim that it was an accident.

There was no car in front of Rodriguez and no reason for him to swerve other than to intentionally hit the man.

The investigation also showed that Rodriguez had been having an ongoing dispute with the victim.

The sentence is to run at the same time as a three-year Albany County drug sentence.

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