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Driver Who Killed Victoria Nicodemus Knew His Car Made Him Lightheaded: DA

 Marlon Sewell, 39, was arraigned Thursday after being indicted on manslaughter charges in the death of Victoria Nicodemus.
Marlon Sewell, 39, was arraigned Thursday after being indicted on manslaughter charges in the death of Victoria Nicodemus.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The driver who fatally struck a woman as she walked on a Fort Greene sidewalk last year knew his car was leaking noxious fumes that made him lightheaded behind the wheel, but kept driving it anyway, prosecutors said. 

Marlon Sewell, 39, was arraigned Thursday on a 12-count indictment including charges of felony manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the December death of 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus — an increase from his initial charges of misdemeanor driving without a license or insurance.

Prosecutors said two separate oxygen tests conducted by the DA’s office revealed that Sewell's car was leaking noxious fumes at the time of the crash — adding that he clearly knew about the issue because he told police officers at the 88th Precinct that he was feeling lightheaded at the time of the crash due to a carbon monoxide leak.

“The car was leaking noxious fumes that entered the interior cabin,” Assistant District Attorney David Pan told Judge Elizabeth Foley Thursday. “The defendant admitted he knew about this condition.”

Prosecutors asked the judge to order a $250,000 bail for Sewell — who has been free without bail since Dec. 6, when he struck and killed Nicodemus and injured two others when his car jumped a curb at Fulton Street and South Portland Place.

The judge ultimately declined the bail amount, since Sewell has no prior criminal record, but she orders his license suspended.

Sewell’s license had been suspended at the time of the crash for failing to pay child support, but it was reinstated shortly after the crash. A judge had refused to suspend Sewell’s license in January, saying she had no grounds to do so because prosecutors hadn't charged him with reckless driving.

“I am going to suspend his license,” Foley said. “It will be suspended until I un-suspend it.”

Sewell’s Legal Aid attorney Niamh O’Flaherty described the father of six as a hardworking, church-going man who has made every one of his court appearances since the crash, arguing that he didn’t pose a flight risk. She said he called police immediately after the crash and has been cooperating with law enforcement ever since. 

“This is a total accident," O’Flaherty said. "He was devastated."

O’Flaherty said Sewell was also in therapy for trauma counseling following the crash.

Sewell has repeatedly declined to speak about the case.

After his arraignment, Nicodemus’ family members thanked prosecutors for upgrading the charges, saying their grief would always be there but that the family was taking it one day at a time.

“I think my feelings and my anger are tempered by the fact that he’s now facing more serious charges," Nicodemus’ brother Hank Miller told DNAinfo. "That certainly helps."

The family had been pushing for stiffer charges following the crash, and in May, Miller posted a petition to Change.org calling on the DA to retain a grand jury in the investigation

A grand jury indicted Sewell on charges of second-degree manslaughter last month as part of a 12-count indictment that also included charges of criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, failure to yield right-of-way, driving on sidewalks, and four counts of third-degree assault. 

Sewell was heading east on Fulton Street with his wife around 5:26 p.m. when he swerved right to avoid another car in front of him and then swerved again to avoid a bus, according to the NYPD.

He drove up onto the sidewalk near South Portland Place, in front of Not Ray’s Pizza and Habana Outpost, striking Nicodemus, her 37-year-old boyfriend and a 75-year-old woman, police said.

Nicodemus was pronounced dead at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, her boyfriend Gerald Toth sustained injuries to his hand and ankle, and Ida Turner suffered injuries to both of her legs, requiring physical therapy, according to prosecutors.

“At trial, we will prove that the three victims were just walking on Fulton Street when the defendant, through his reckless actions, drove his car onto the sidewalk striking them all and killing Ms. Nicodemus,” District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement.

If convicted on the top charge, Sewell faces up to 15 years in prison. 

He is due back in court on August 31.