Sidewalk Killer Free to Drive Thanks to Judge and Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson

The man who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Brooklyn sidewalk kept his driver’s license because, according to the judge, DA Ken Thompson did not charge him with reckless driving.
The man who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Brooklyn sidewalk kept his driver’s license because, according to the judge, DA Ken Thompson did not charge him with reckless driving.

A judge refused to take the license of the motorist who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Brooklyn sidewalk because, she said, District Attorney Ken Thompson filed no charges for reckless driving.

Marlon Sewell was allegedly driving without a valid license when he hit Nicodemus and two other people on Fulton Street on December 6, injuring Nicodemus’s boyfriend and the third victim. Thompson filed a top charge of unlicensed aggravated operation, a low-level misdemeanor and the same charge that police and prosecutors apply when an unlicensed driver commits a traffic infraction.

The DA did not charge Sewell, who reportedly has a history of driving without regard for others’ safety, for the act of killing Nicodemus and injuring the other victims — declining even to file charges under the Right of Way Law.

In December Judge Marguerite Dougherty denied a request from Thompson’s office to hold Sewell on bail based on the charges against him. “Without additional charges I see no reason to set bail,” Dougherty said last month. On Monday Dougherty told prosecutors “they had not presented an argument that would revoke … Sewell’s driver’s license,” according to DNAinfo.

“There are no allegations of the defendant recklessly driving,” said Dougherty.

She added that Sewell’s license had only been suspended at the time due to lack of child support and has since been restored.

Prosecutors told Dougherty that video evidence indicates Sewell had no “innocent reason to drive over the curb,” but DNAinfo reported that no additional charges have been filed because Sewell claimed he was “lightheaded” due to a carbon monoxide leak in his car.

Dougherty, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015, said that since Sewell’s SUV was impounded there was no reason to prevent him from being able to drive legally. “It negates the necessity,” she said.

According to the Post and DNAinfo, Sewell was arrested for unlicensed driving last March, and in November was summonsed for speeding in school zones three times in one week. DNAinfo reported that Sewell’s driving record was not broached by prosecutors yesterday.

Thompson is looked to as a leader among district attorneys when it comes to traffic safety and Vision Zero. But in several instances Thompson has authorized pleas for unlicensed operation, which carries a maximum sentence of $500 and 30 days in jail, to settle cases against drivers who killed people.

Dougherty’s refusal to keep Sewell off the roads is reminiscent of a case brought by Thompson’s predecessor Charles Hynes. In 2012 Judge Desmond Green sentenced Anthony Webb, the driver who killed pedestrian Clara Heyworth, to a $250 fine and a drunk driving course after Hynes allowed Webb to plead to unlicensed driving and driving without an insurance card. Green chastised prosecutors from the bench for dropping more serious charges against Webb.

Sewell’s next court date is set for February, according to court records.

  • Insane.

  • com63

    Seems like Thompson’s fault if the proper charges haven’t been filed.

  • djx

    The headlines I’m seeing in various outlets and social media blaming the judge are not accurate – the problem is the DA not filing charges. Which is nuts/totally normal.

  • Brad Aaron

    Some news stories published just after the crash said Sewell claimed his car was leaking exhaust into the passenger cabin. So if you believe that contributed, he admitted to knowing about the problem and driving anyway.

  • mattkime

    We need a serious and focused push to remove DAs and judges that protect people who kill with cars.

  • AlexWithAK

    It sounds like the judge did have discretion to revoke his license, though. She sites the SUV being impounded as negating the need to revoke the license, which is asinine.

  • Joe R.

    This also shows he’s unfit to drive because his thought processes are irrational. What reasonable person knowingly gets into a vehicle leaking exhaust into the passenger compartment, let alone drives it? The rare times I ride in cars I get sick just breathing in whatever fumes make it into the passenger compartment from the air outside. How can anyone drive a vehicle with an exhaust leak? The judge should send him to Bellevue for observation. That’ll also keep him from driving.

  • I’d seen the stories saying that he was claiming he was lightheaded because of an exhaust leak.

    The idea that that is an excuse is utterly extraordinary. If one knows there’s a fault with one’s car that can make one drive badly, one gets it fixed or doesn’t drive. It actually worsens his culpability if that’s the reason he crashed, rather than lessening it.

    A simple course in reasoning might be helpful for some in New York’s legal profession.

  • AlexWithAK

    Moreover, the fact that cops and DAs seem to accept these nonsense excuses virtually every time is telling of our system. And they accept them at face value without any further investigation.

  • com63

    I’m sure this guy’s lawyer came up with this defense.

  • Andrew

    Despicable.

    Meanwhile, there is occasionally a glimmer of hope: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/driver-sentenced-1-3-years-prison-killing-woman-article-1.2494469

    Good for Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel Conviser.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    time for Steve V. to start a civil case

  • joyauto

    Is it possible that no charges were filed because both the killer driver and the DA are black.?. Is that a remote possibility? Just asking?

  • neroden

    Ken Thompson and Marguerite Dougherty, accessories to manslaughter.

    The campaign ads write themselves. These corrupt killers need to be removed from office.

  • neroden

    Yes. Streetsblog should do an article on that. Good for Justice Conviser, a public servant who actually seems to understand what his legal and moral duties are.

  • neroden

    Yep. They’re accessories-after-the-fact in conspiracies to commit manslaughter. Various judge-invented “immunity” doctrines (which don’t exist under English common law or on the statute book) prevent them from being prosecuted.

    But the fact that these DAs and judges protect killers and make sure the killers are free to kill again…. it’s totally legit to use this in campaign ads. They write themselves. Would you vote for the judge who lets KILLERS free to roam the streets to KILL AGAIN, and even hands their DEADLY WEAPONS back to them?

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