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Hamburg woman in fatal hit-run says she ‘freaked out’

Ashley Sawicki was driving home around 12:30 a.m. last July 15 on Big Tree Road in Hamburg. Her mother was asleep in the front passenger seat. They had been out drinking at bars.

Suddenly, she saw a person hit the windshield on the passenger side. She stopped, got out of the car and saw a woman lying on the side of the road.

“I freaked out,” she told police in a statement more than two months later. She got back in the car and drove home. She said she was sorry she didn’t stay at the scene.

Police, responding to a 911 call, found Jennifer Martello injured and unconscious on the side of the road near her home. She died in Erie County Medical Center. An autopsy determined she had been struck by a vehicle.

Sam Martello said his 29-year-old wife had gone out to get a drink after learning that she had lost out on a job at a nursing home.

Sawicki, 22, who lives in Hamburg with her mother, Michelle Rubeck, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

She was arrested shortly after she gave detectives her statement Oct. 1 admitting she had hit someone and fled the scene.

She was in Erie County Court on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing. Her attorney, Dominic Candino, is trying to prevent prosecutors from using the statement at trial, contending it was not given voluntarily.

During the hearing, Hamburg Detective Scott Kashino testified that he and another detective had gone to the nursing home where Sawicki worked and asked her to come with them to the police station for questioning about the fatal hit-run. He said she agreed.

At the station, he said he informed her of her Miranda rights and she signed a statement waiving those rights, including her right to have an attorney present.

About three minutes into the interview, he said Sawicki told him that she had been advised not to say anything without a lawyer, but he continued questioning her and she answered his questions.

He said she didn’t ask for an attorney and didn’t say she had an attorney.

After questioning her, he said he typed a statement based on her answers, that she read the statement and then signed it.

The hearing before Judge Sheila A. DiTullio will continue April 6, with testimony on another statement Sawicki gave police Aug. 29, after they impounded the 2004 blue Dodge Neon she was driving the night Martello died.

Police determined that the car had sustained damage recently and that the windshield had been replaced.