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Drue sentence in perspective

SARATOGA COUNTY -- A day after Dennis Drue, the man who admitted to killing two Shenendehowa High School students in a car crash last year was sentenced, there are still questions surrounding the punishment he received.

Drue received 5 to 15 years in state prison after he cut a deal with a Saratoga County Judge. The district attorney's office was not part of that negotiation process, said District Attorney James Murphy, Thursday, after Drue was sentenced.

The DA's office was hoping for a stiffer sentence, Murphy said.

"Our hands were tied when it came to sentencing because judge Scarano and Mr. Drue made a deal directly with each other," said Murphy.

Mr. Drue was initially offered a 5 to 15 year sentence by the district attorney's office in exchange for a plea to all the counts in the indictment against him.

Drue turned down that offer.

Because the offer was rejected the DA's part of the negotiations were over, said Attorney Paul Derohannesian. According to Derohannesian, once Drue changed his mind and decided to plead guilty to every count in the indictment it opened the door for him to negotiate with Judge Scaranao.

"One of the key points here and it is somewhat unusual is the defendant pleading to the entire indictment. At that point the district attorney is out of the equation when it comes to sentencing," said Derohannesian. "It becomes the defendant and the judge."

At the same time of Drue's sentencing, about 35 miles away in Albany, Shanikqua Thomas was receiving an 18 year sentence for pleading guilty to three counts of vehicular assault.
No one died in the incident.

Derohannesian says the two cases, despite the fact a vehicle was used in both crimes, have enough differences they shouldn't be compared. First here's intent.

In the case of Dennis Drue's manslaughter conviction it meant he caused the students death but didn't intend to. In the case of Ms. Thomas the prosecution says she intentionally tried to harm others when she drove through a group of people with her SUV.

There is also the case of prior record. Because the Albany County DA's office says Ms. Thomas had a previous criminal background, filled with felonies, they were able to enhance her sentence.
"The law does treat someone who has felony convictions or violent felony convictions differently," Derohannesian said.

Judge Scarano said during sentencing Dennis Drue received a sentence that is in line with punishments for others convicted of a similar crime.

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