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Prosecutor: Woman charged in fatal hit-run had been out drinking with mother

A Hamburg woman charged in a fatal hit-and-run last summer had been out drinking with her mother at bars that night, a prosecutor said Wednesday at a bail hearing in Erie County Court.

Ashley Sawicki, 21, who lives on Harvard Street with her mother, Michelle Rubeck, told Hamburg police that they had been visiting bars before Jennifer Martello was hit on Big Tree Road around 12:30 a.m. July 15, Assistant District Attorney Kelley A. Omel told Judge Sheila A. DiTullio.

Omel said Sawicki admitted she hit a pedestrian that night, stopped her car, got out, saw a woman on the ground who was not moving, then got back in the car and took off. Her mother also was in the car.

The prosecutor recommended that she be held without bail or on a high amount of bail, calling her a flight risk since she is charged with fleeing the scene of a fatal crash.

Omel acknowledged that although Sawicki admitted she had been drinking that night, it is unlikely prosecutors can prove she was intoxicated because she wasn’t interviewed by police until Aug. 29.

Dominic Candino, Sawicki’s attorney, said his client was not a flight risk.

He noted that she cooperated with police when they contacted her and that she appeared for her arraignment Oct. 6 in Hamburg Town Court after she was charged there and showed up for arraignment Tuesday in Erie County Court when she pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

He also noted that there was no proof that she was intoxicated the night of the crime.

He said his client had no prior criminal record and had been working at a nursing home while also attending Erie Community College until her license was suspended at her arraignment in Hamburg Town Court.

DiTullio set bail at $50,000. She told Sawicki that if she posts bail and is released, she cannot drive. She also told her mother, who was in the courtroom, to make sure that her daughter doesn’t drive.

Candino said Sawicki would post bail.

At the time of her arrest, police said a tip they received regarding a 2004 blue Dodge Neon registered to a Hamburg address led to Sawicki after they determined the car had recently sustained damage and had a windshield replaced.

Authorities impounded the car through a search warrant Aug. 29 and contacted Sawicki the same day.

Police believe Martello, 29, was walking east on Big Tree Road about 200 yards from her home shortly after midnight July 15 when she was hit. Police, responding to a 911 call, found her injured and unconscious on the side of the road. She died in Erie County Medical Center.

An autopsy determined she had been struck by a vehicle.

Martello and her husband, Sam, had moved into a home in the neighborhood with their young daughter, Amelia, a few months before she was struck. Sam Martello said his wife had gone out to get a drink after learning that day she had lost out on a job at a nursing home.

Her family was in the courtroom for the hearing. They declined to comment.