Press-Republican

November 20, 2013

Mooers man pleads not guilty to manslaughter, other charges

Ronald Trombly accused of driving drunk and killing Ashley A. Poissant

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — On Tuesday, Ronald R. Trombly pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and numerous other charges in connection with the death of Ashley A. Poissant of Champlain.

Dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, the Mooers man, 85, sat silently beside defense attorney Allan Cruikshank as he entered a not-guilty plea for him on each of the eight charges.

Cruikshank was standing in for Trombly’s counsel, Stanley Cohen, who was out of the country. Clinton County Court Judge Kevin Ryan presided.

Members of both the Poissant and Trombly families filled courtroom seating to capacity.

INDICTED LAST WEEK

State Police said Trombly was drunk when he hit Poissant, 27, with his car on May 20 as she was jogging at dusk along Perry’s Mills Road in Champlain.

She died the next day from injuries sustained in the crash.

After a Clinton County grand jury did not indict Trombly on any charges in July, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie petitioned to have the case resubmitted to another panel.

Then, on Friday, Nov. 15, Trombly was indicted on all the original charges: second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, all felonies; third-degree assault and two counts of driving while intoxicated, all misdemeanors; and two counts of failure to use due care to avoid a pedestrian, a violation.

.12 PERCENT BAC

In a news conference following the arraignment, Wylie said Trombly was unable to provide a breath sample at the crash site, but a sample of his blood was taken at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh at 10:17 p.m. May 20, about 90 minutes after the his vehicle struck Poissant.

The New York State Forensic Science Laboratory in Albany returned a .12 percent blood-alcohol content.

“It may have been higher,” Wylie said of Trombly’s intoxication level immediately following the crash.

A blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher is considered driving while intoxicated, according to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

The crash happened between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m., with Champlain EMS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and State Police arriving shortly thereafter, Wylie said.

‘NOT FLIGHT RISK’

In court on Tuesday, Wylie told Ryan he believed Trombly had made several attempts to regain a driver’s license, as his was suspended after he was charged in June.

“I want to make clear that he is not allowed to have a license until the completion of this case,” Ryan said.

The judge ordered Trombly be subject to the terms of pre-trial release, which would likely include monitoring either by ankle bracelet or telephone.

“We are confident that he will appear (in court),” Wylie said, citing Trombly’s age and local town of residence as other factors in his decision to request he be kept out of jail.

But Wylie asked that Trombly be required to undergo regular alcohol testing as part of the terms of his release.

Ryan left that decision in the hands of Elizabeth Arlt, the court referral specialist with the Clinton County Probation Department.

Arlt provided Trombly with the terms of his release in chambers immediately following his arraignment; those details were not available to the media on Tuesday.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE

Ryan gave the defense 45 days to file any legal motions and designated 10 days for the DA’s Office to respond to any motions filed.

Trombly is scheduled to appear in court again at 3 p.m. Jan. 23 for a pre-trial conference.

‘MORE THOROUGH’

During the press conference, Wylie addressed the successful second effort for indictment, which was presented to the grand jury by Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Evanovich. 

“We presented the same evidence (as the first time),” the district attorney said. “I think we just did a more thorough investigation.”

The defense’s position on the case, Wylie said, would likely be that Poissant was killed in an unavoidable accident.

‘TAKE PRECAUTIONS’

State Police Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation Capt. Robert LaFountain said at the press conference that a thorough investigation and collision reconstruction were conducted by Investigator Thomas Houle.

“The evidence is going to show that there was adequate time for a reaction to occur that didn’t,” LaFountain said.

He urged the public to exercise responsibility with alcohol in light of the upcoming holiday season and the tragedy that Wylie said has deeply affected both the Poissant family and the residents of Clinton County.

“Take the appropriate precautions to avoid a tragedy,” LaFountain said.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg