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Court dismisses appeal for driver sentenced in fatal wreck

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - Updated: 8:23 PM


For the C-S-E

FONDA -- A Fort Plain woman who struck and killed a motorcyclist while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, and with her children in the car, three years ago will remain incarcerated in the Albion Correctional Facility following a state appellate judges determination in dismissing her appeal Thursday.

Monk, 38, of 172 Route 80, is serving a six- to 18-year prison term under the sentence imposed by county Judge Felix Catena March 16, 2011.

Monk was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide.

She was driving west on Route 5 July 25, 2010, with two of her children in the car. She crossed the center line, and hit two eastbound Jefferson County motorcyclists in front of Lee Publications, Inc.

Investigators believe Monk was returning to her home from the Dutchtown Plaza area at the time of the collision, and was under the influence of prescription narcotics. Monk's children, who were 4 and 13 years old at the time, were in the vehicle.

Motorcyclist Douglas Estelle lost his leg, but Bruce Gilmore died shortly after the pair was airlifted to Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.

Monk initially accepted a plea to reduce the charge from aggravated vehicular homicide to involuntary vehicular manslaughter, which she later refused during her sentencing.

During the sentencing hearing, when prompted if she recalled the terms of her plea bargain, Monk mumbled "no," and was heard whispering "I don't want that, I want to change that," while she conferred with her attorney.

At the time, Montgomery County District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy said the reduced charge promised Monk "a certain sentence upon the condition she waived her right to appeal."

But with Monk's rejection of the conditional plea, she had the right to appeal, Conboy said.

According to the appellate judges' decision released Thursday, the record did not show that Monk moved to withdraw her plea or conviction.

"[She] made no statements during the plea [hearing] that tended to cast doubt upon her guilt," the decision reads.

After Estelle and Gilmore's daughter read emotional victim impact statements during Monk's sentencing, Monk apologized to them.

"I apologize. I did not intend to hurt anyone. There's nothing I can say to replace your pain. If I can help change [prescription drug laws], maybe something positive can come out of this tragedy," she said.

Along with jail time, Catena revoked Monk's license and her ability to apply for one, and ordered she pay $19,000 to Estelle and Lucille Gilmore.


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