A 38-year-old Ithaca man admitted in Tompkins County Court Thursday that he crashed a vehicle into two girls, killing one of them who was 14 years old, while he was under the influence of cocaine and had a blood alcohol content over .18%.
Sophia Nickerson, the girl who was killed in the crash, was a student at the Lehman Alternative Community School and was a beloved daughter, grand-daughter, niece, sister and friend to many, reads a message from the Tompkins County District Attorney's Office.
Robert DeFelice pleaded guilty to felony aggravated vehicular homicide. His maximum possible sentence is eight and a third to 25 years in prison.
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The crash occurred on July 21 in the the Town of Ithaca. DeFelice drove his vehicle over the fog line onto the shoulder of Route 96 near Indian Creek Farm into the path of the girls who were walking on the shoulder.
Deputies said he then left the scene of the accident.
About 15 minutes after deputies responded to the crash, the sheriff's office received a call from a tow company advising that a grey Volvo with a smashed windshield drove past the Ithaca Police Department. Ithaca police located that car on Danby Road near the City of Ithaca line.
Deputies interviewed DeFelice at that location and arrested him.
In July, DeFelice had been charged with felony second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and felony leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident.
"I would like to recognize the members of the community who stepped forward in the immediate wake of this tragedy to provide care to the victims and to ensure that the perpetrator was caught," said Matthew Van Houten, Tompkins County District Attorney. "Additionally, the professional response of both the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office and the Ithaca Police Department ensured that the defendant was brought to justice."
Van Houten continued: "It is meaningful that the defendant pleaded guilty to the most serious charge. While nothing can make this tragedy less painful for the victim's family, the defendant's acceptance of responsibility represents a small measure of justice."
Sentencing has been scheduled for March 3 at 2:00 p.m.
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This article originally appeared on Ithaca Journal: Ithaca man was on cocaine, drunk before crashing into and killing girl