Yonkers man pleads not guilty in 2004 killing of Sprain Brook Parkway driver
A pizza delivery man accused of hurling a rock from a Sprain Brook Parkway overpass that resulted in the death of a 48-year-old woman nine years ago pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of second-degree murder.
Alberto Plasencia, 26, of Bronx River Road in Yonkers, was arrested last week by Yonkers cold case detectives and accused of hurling a chunk of asphalt that went through Marie McSweeney's windshield as she drove her Oldsmobile south near Kimball Avenue Bridge in Yonkers on April 24, 2004, between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Her 87-year-old mother was a passenger in the car. Plasencia was arraigned Tuesday in Westchester County Court in White Plains.
The rock, which measured 10 inches by 7 inches by 3 inches, struck McSweeney on the left side of her head, prosecutors said.
"Every motorist's nightmare, traveling under a roadway overpass wondering if an object will be thrown from it," Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said. "This defendant did just that, throwing a large chunk of asphalt into traffic, ending the life of a 48-year-old woman as surely as if he pulled a trigger."
Plasencia's lawyer, Edward Rinaldi, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The car continued on for less than half a mile before veering off the road and striking a guardrail on the right shoulder for about 800 feet, then spinning back across the road's split with the Bronx River Parkway and into a wooded area near the Desmond Avenue Ramp.
Despite numerous witnesses, Yonkers cops were unable to crack the case for five years. Then, new evidence came to light in 2009 and cold case and homicide police reopened the investigation.
Prosecutors and police did not say what that new evidence was that pointed them in the direction of Plasencia.
But Yonkers Cold Case Det. John Geiss showed Plasencia five photographs of potential witnesses in the case when he interviewed and then arrested him Jan. 22, according to Geiss' notes and Yonkers police reports. Among those witnesses was Plasencia's friend Alex Novak, who in a recorded phone call with Plasencia on April 4, 2011, noted that the case had been reopened.
Plasencia said he wasn't aware of that but reminded Novak not to talk about the incident.
"But you just remember, that's, we never speak about that," Plasencia told Novak, according to a transcript of the call.
Plasencia was "visibly nervous and upset" when confronted by Geiss, according to the documents.
Geiss said he "explained to Alberto I knew everything about what happened that day."
"It should be noted that Alberto never asked me about the case I was working on or the case that his name came up in," Geiss wrote.
Plasencia faces a possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Westchester County Court Judge Barry Warhit set a $400,000 bail for Plasencia. He is due back in court Feb. 26.