Hamilton gets 1 to 3 years for Westerlo crash that killed Berne woman

Alexander Hamilton

— Photo from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office

Alexander Hamilton

ALBANY COUNTY — Alexander Hamilton, who crashed his motorcycle, while drunk, into a utility pole last September, killing his passenger, Leanna Prudhomme, of Berne, was sentenced in Albany County Court Monday morning to one to three years in state prison, according to the Albany County District Attorney’s office.

Victim impact statements submitted to court, presided over by Judge William A. Carter, from Prudhomme’s family describe a family in mental, emotional, and financial disarray.

On Dec. 5, Hamilton had pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony. When questioned in court that morning about his drinking prior to the crash, he acknowledged his responsibility for the crash, even though he could not recall it. He said that the last thing he remembered was riding his dirt bike that morning. His attorney said that he had suffered memory damage from the crash.

Hamilton on Monday was sentenced to use an ignition interlock device following his release from prison and will have his license revoked for a minimum of six months subject to the state Department of Motor Vehicles determination, the district attorney’s report said.

Hamilton, who is 23 and lives in Hannacroix, in Greene County, had been driving his motorcycle on Route 403 in Westerlo on Sept. 2, 2018, when he crashed into a utility pole, police say; Prudhomme, also 23, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hamilton had just left a Greenville bar and was found surrounded by both full and empty cans of beer at the scene of the crash, according to police. He had a .08 blood alcohol content two hours after the crash, according to the district attorney’s report.

Five victim impact statements were provided by Prudhomme’s parents and siblings. Her mother, Kimberly Zelvian, described how on the night of the crash her other daughter, Lurina, had woken her screaming because she had received a Facebook message from one of Prudhomme’s friends about the crash. A call on speakerphone to another friend delivered the news that she was gone, Zelvian wrote, before someone from the sheriff’s office arrived.

Zelvian wrote in a four-page statement that she continues to think about the crash, her thoughts often going to how her daughter died and wondering if the coroner was correct in telling her she died instantly. She wrote that the mental anguish has driven her to consider suicide were it not going to bring more pain to her family.

“How do I know she died instantly? As she lay there alone, was she crying inside wanting her mother? Her sister, her brothers, her father? Were there tears running down her face?” she asked. “These thoughts are constantly on my mind. I should have been there for her. I should have held her in my arms and consoled her.”

Of her daughter’s belongings, Zelvian said she received her boots and nose ring after her other clothing was destroyed in the crash. Her daughter’s cell phone remains in an evidence locker but Zelvian said for weeks she could hear the alarm linked to it going off in her bedroom.

Several family members wrote that they have suffered financially as well, after losing an earner in the household, missing work, and having to pay for funeral expenses. Zelvian’s rent and car payments are past due, she has received a final disconnect notice from the power company, her credit score has plummeted, and her dream of owning a home one day is gone, she said.

Prudhomme was an animal lover, bottle-feeding an abandoned kitten and rescuing a horse from a kill pen, stated her sister, Lurina Zelvian. She also had been working as an apprentice at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 83 and was proud of her work, sending her sister photos of the duct work she had done.

Her 3-year-old nephew adored her and still carries around a photo of her, her family wrote, saying that Prudhomme eventually wanted a family of her own, but Hamilton had taken away the prospect of a wedding and children.

“Mr. Hamilton will have the opportunity to celebrate his birthday, holidays and other special times. My daughter will not get the same opportunity,” her father, Frank Prudhomme, wrote.

Her family also described Leanna Prudhomme as someone both fiercely independent as well as caring and compassionate.

“Leanna had something about her that lit up any room she walked into, something none of us will be able to experience again,” her brother Joseph Prudhomme wrote.

More Hilltowns News

  • Following an inquiry from The Enterprise, New York State’s Committee on Open Government has issued an opinion that the Berne Town Board has been calling for executive sessions under inappropriate pretenses.

  • A Black Lives Matter rally planned by Berne resident Laurie Searl has drawn strong criticism on Facebook, leaving some would-be attendants worried about a counter-protest that could turn violent, as has happened both locally and across the country.

  • The Berne Town Board has spent more than $15,000 on investigations according to documents received by The Enterprise through a Freedom of Information Law request. All the investigations appear to have been of Democratic town board members. One recently led to a censure by partisan vote; the others were unsubstantiated.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.