Moro man sentenced for killing tow truck driver

BALLSTON SPA — With friends and family of Alex Pleckhardt — and the canine companion he was with a year ago when he was killed on North Road — looking on, the driver behind the death has been sentenced to more than two decades in state prison, prosecutors said Thursday.

Blakehart, a tow truck driver, was tending to a disabled box truck on the shoulder of the highway in Wilton on Sept. 15, 2022. Justin P. Rodriguez of Morrow was driving a box truck and, failing to move, slammed the box truck from behind and authorities said the truck was traveling at 76 mph. The collision killed Blakehart.

Rodriguez, 42, was convicted in July after a three-week trial on three counts of aggravated murder, manslaughter, criminal weapons possession, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting property damage, and violating the Move-In Law.

The ruling by Saratoga County District Court Judge James A. Murphy III, a maximum term of 12½ to 25 years for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge and a consecutive 10-year sentence for the gun conviction. Prosecutor Karen A. said: Hegen said in a statement that he was sentenced as a second offender due to his four prior felony DWI convictions.

At sentencing, the judge dismissed the charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated, two counts of DWI, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and reckless driving because they are the least of the crimes included in the more serious crimes. Hegen referred to the convictions and “integration under the law.”

Prior to the accident, Rodriguez consumed excessive amounts of alcohol and showed signs of severe intoxication at a Wilton restaurant, and despite pleas from concerned citizens not to drive, he left and drove recklessly across the parking lot, striking barriers and nearly crashing into a parked car. , according to the district attorney’s office. He sped off and collided with a metal pole and a chain barrier. His license was permanently revoked after he was convicted of drunk driving.

While on Northbound Road, he approached the disabled box truck, but made no effort to move, slow down or avoid a collision, prosecutors said. Pleckhardt, 33, of Pottersville, was killed, and his dog Moose was in the tow truck.

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