BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The driver who fatally struck a woman as she walked on a Fort Greene sidewalk last year has hired a private lawyer after a grand jury indicted him on manslaughter charges.
Marlon Sewell, 39, was arraigned last month 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.
Sewell is now being represented by defense attorney Damien Brown, who called the charges against his client a stretch.
“It seems like they’re reaching because somebody died, which is a human reaction but even more a political reaction to do something for the family,” Brown said. “I certainly understand this, but right now I don’t see where the meat is on this. I think they’re stretching.”
Nicodemus's family had petitioned the Brooklyn District Attorney's office for a grand jury probe into the crash, in the hope that Sewell would face harsher penalties.
Prosecutors said last month that Sewell knew his car was leaking noxious fumes that made him lightheaded behind the wheel but that he kept driving anyway.
Two separate oxygen tests conducted by the Brooklyn DA's office revealed that Sewell’s car was leaking noxious fumes, and Sewell told police officers that he was feeling lightheaded at the time of the crash due to a carbon monoxide leak, prosecutors said.
Brown, who only received the details of the case Wednesday from Sewell’s former public defender, maintained his client wasn't at fault.
“I do believe he’s innocent,” the attorney said.
The DA's office declined to comment Wednesday.
Sewell was heading east on Fulton Street with his wife around 5:26 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2015, 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, fatally striking Nicodemus and injuring her 37-year-old boyfriend, as well as a 75-year-old woman, police said.
If convicted on the top charge, Sewell faces up to 15 years in prison.
He is due back in court on Oct. 25.