Trooper pleads no contest in fatal DUI crash

March 4, 2013

A Pennsylvania state police trooper most recently assigned to Troop B’s Pittsburgh station pleaded no contest Monday afternoon in Erie County Court to charges of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol in a crash last year that killed a man.

Jeffrey Michael Dalessandro, 36, of Canonsburg, entered the plea before Judge Shad Connelly in the Feb. 8, 2012, crash that killed 21-year-old Daryl Leroy Nunemaker of Edinboro. As part of the agreement, one count of DUI and charges of involuntary manslaughter, careless driving, reckless driving and disregarding traffic lane were withdrawn, said Erie County Assistant District Attorney Roger Bauer, who prosecuted the case.

Dalessandro’s blood-alcohol content was 0.13 percent, more than 1 1/2 times the 0.08 limit presumed for intoxication.

Dalessandro was driving east on Route 8 at Old Meadville Road, Union Township, when his pickup truck crossed the center line while going around a left-hand curve and collided head-on with Nunemaker’s sport utility vehicle. Nunemaker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dalessandro, who was off duty, had gone to Erie County for a fishing trip. A paramedic at the scene told the state police investigator that Dalessandro told him that he had several drinks earlier on the evening of the crash at a bar in Edinboro. Dalessandro, who was taken to UPMC-Hamot hospital in Erie, also indicated he was on his way back to his hotel. He told investigators he had consumed four light beers.

Bauer said Dalessandro will be sentenced April 25 before Erie County President Judge Ernest DiSantis Jr. There is a mandatory sentence of three years on the homicide by vehicle while DUI charge, with a possible maximum sentence of 10 years, Bauer said. A pre-sentence investigation will be performed.

Dalessandro, who also had worked at Troop B’s headquarters in Washington, joined the state police in January 2003. He is currently suspended without pay, according to a state police spokeswoman. He remains free on a $25,000 percentage bond, pending sentencing.

Dalessandro’s attorney, Leonard G. Ambrose III, did not return a telephone call Monday.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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