Sabrina Livermore, 31, of Oneida County, previously convicted of a fatal drunk driving crash in 2014 that took the life of a Dundee woman and injured several others, appeared in Yates County Criminal Court Tuesday Aug. 13 seeking to have her conviction vacated based on her claim that she had received ineffective counsel from her attorney, Edward Fiandach.
In her plea hearing Jan. 5, 2016, Livermore admitted she was the driver of a car that left Randall Crossing Road in Milo July 17, 2014 and struck two other cars on State Route 14, killing Roxan E. Meier of Dundee, and injuring five other people, including three in her own vehicle. According to New York State Police, Livermore’s BAC was 0.10.
Livermore, then 27, was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in state prison by Judge W. Patrick Falvey March 1, 2016 in Yates County Court after entering a plea of guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide (class B felony) and driving while intoxicated. She was also sentenced to a 1-year concurrent term for the DWI charge, plus a $1,000 fine, mandatory surcharges, DNA registration fee, license revocation, and ignition interlock upon release.
After rejecting a pre-indictment offer of 2 to 6 years, a Yates County grand jury indicted her on 23 charges in September 2015. Yates County’s District Attorney at that time, Valerie Gardner, said Livermore’s guilty plea to the top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide essentially encompassed all the remaining indictments.
In front of her family and supporters, and family members of victims of the crash, Livermore told Falvey she and her friends had spent about five hours visiting wineries on Seneca Lake, and had just left Miles Wine Cellars when the accident happened. She said she knew she was intoxicated when she was driving a car owned by one of the passengers. In a long statement to the court before sentencing, Livermore said, “On July 17, 2014 I made a decision to drive while intoxicated and lives were shattered as a result. For so many, events like this are just a statistic, but I’ve learned first~hand it is so much more than that. Real people with real stories are irreparably changed by decisions like mine... There will never be a day where I do not feel the gravity of what I’ve done and the pain I’ve caused. I don’t want to be absolved of this pain, I deserve it. All I can do now is take accountability. I have spent countless hours thinking of how I can possibly do this in a truly meaningful way. I have come to realize, in the simplest terms, my actions got me here, and my actions are the only way I can work toward honoring the life lost, providing healing, and taking responsibility.”
Had she gone to trial, Livermore faced up to 25 years in prison, according to Falvey. The crash victims were not seeking restitution through the criminal case, but by civil suit filed against Livermore, the Town of Milo, and some of the wineries the group visited.
In an appeal of Livermore’s conviction, in May 2018 the Appellate Division, Fourth Department unanimously upheld both the conviction and sentence she received in Yates County before Falvey.
Now on parole since Feb. 28, 2019, living back in her hometown and employed, Livermore appeared with her new attorney, John Cirando, before Yates County’s current Judge, Jason Cook. In the 440 motion, they ask that Livermore’s conviction to be vacated and she be allowed to plead again and be resentenced to the earlier offer of 2 to 6 years in prison.
In this new hearing regarding the motion, Livermore and her parents claim that Fiandach did not provide them with full information on the indictment, the potential sentence terms, and of a witness who was discovered that damaged Livermore’s defense. They further claim he was “cocky,” overconfident, and spoke disparagingly of Gardner. Cirando also submitted a reverse extrapolation analysis of her blood alcohol content by an expert they claim casts doubt on her intoxication at the time of the fatal crash.
Yates County Assistant District Attorney Michael Tantillo filed his response to the motion citing several defects in Cirando’s arguments, most notedly that there in no provision in the law that would require Livermore to plead guilty again, nor require the prosecution to offer the very generous plea deal to just two counts of the 23 count indictment. Accompanying Tantillo’s response is an affidavit from Fiandach refuting the Livermores’ account of their numerous meetings and their contention after the fact that his defense was in any way inadequate.
Current District Attorney Todd Casella stated after the hearing that if the motion were to be granted, then the case would be “back at square one,” that no offer would be made to Livermore, and that with doubts of her remorse for the death of Roxan Meier and the injuries to her other victims, the D.A.s’ office would take the matter to trial and seek the maximum sentence.
Cook reserved his decision on the motion, and the next day ordered an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Oct. 15.