ALBANY — A Hannacroix man will serve one to three years in state prison for vehicular manslaughter after he drove drunk and killed a Berne woman last fall, officials said.
Alex Hamilton, 23, was sentenced in Albany County Court on Monday by Albany County Judge William A. Carter, according to a statement from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.
Police accused Hamilton of driving his motorcycle drunk Sept. 2 on Route 403 in Westerlo with passenger Leanna Rose Prudhomme, 23, of Berne, when he veered off the road and struck a telephone pole. Hamilton and Prudhomme were ejected from the motorcycle, which was sheared in half.
Prudhomme was pronounced dead at the scene. Her cause of death was blunt-force trauma, Albany County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy William Rice said in September.
“She was a really vibrant person,” Prudhomme’s sister, Lurina Zelvian said Tuesday. “There wasn’t anybody who didn’t like her. She lit up everyone’s lives she came in contact with.”
Prudhomme graduated from Greenville High School in 2014. She was a sheet metal worker for Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 83 and loved animals.
“Leanna was a very hard worker,” Zelvian said. “She rescued her horse from going to slaughter... His name is Cashew. She was a really sweet girl with a heart of gold.”
Hamilton sustained internal injuries in the crash and was later charged with driving while intoxicated, an unclassified misdemeanor. He was also charged with not having insurance, operating a motorcycle without a license, having unregistered motorcycle switch plates and driving an uninspected vehicle, all violations; in addition to crossing road-hazard markings, a moving violation.
Prudhomme’s family made victim impact statements in court Monday, Zelvian said. Hamilton responded with a statement expressing an apology and his condolences.
“We still believe he should have gotten longer jail time,” Zelvian said, adding Hamilton signed a statement giving up his rights to appeal the sentence.
Hamilton pleaded guilty Dec. 5 to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a class D felony, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Hamilton could be eligible for release after he completes a year of his sentence, but can serve up to three years, District Attorney David Soares’ spokeswoman Cecilia Walsh said Tuesday.
“He needs to stay for the first year,” Walsh said. “This plea allows for an indeterminate amount of time.”
Prior to the crash, Hamilton drank several alcoholic beverages throughout the day, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Authorities tested Hamilton’s Blood Alcohol Content two hours after the crash. It was .08 — the legal limit.
Hamilton is in the Albany County Jail and will be transferred to Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill to determine his risk level, Walsh said. The risk level will help determine where Hamilton will serve the sentence. A decision will be made within two to three weeks.
“They’ve got to find an appropriate prison that fits the needs of the individual,” Walsh said. “That’s up to the Department of Corrections.”
Hamilton’s one- to three-year sentence was considered the best course of action, Walsh said, adding the judge, attorneys and defendant agreed on it.
“Mr. Hamilton did want to take responsibility for his actions,” Walsh said.
In addition to his sentence, Hamilton is subject to a minimum six-month license revocation contingent on the determination of the state Department of Motor Vehicles and will have to reapply with the department to regain his license, Walsh said.
An ignition interlock device will be installed in Hamilton’s vehicle upon his release.
Prudhomme’s family and friends are trying to find comfort in their memories of the woman whose bright future was cut short.
She found the positive in the most situations, said Prudhomme’s best friend, Morgan Searles, of Ravena.
“Anything thrown at her, she’d turn around and find the good from it,” Searles said. “Her family and friends were her everything. She was loving giving, caring, forgiving... She was a beautiful soul and it’s a shame she was taken from us so soon.”
Searles has a tattoo in honor of her best friend with the quote: “You left me beautiful memories, your love is still my guide, and though I cannot see you, you’re always at my side.”
“She’s here with all of us every day,” Searles said.
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.