A Lebanon County jury last week convicted Vincent Sosnowski of homicide by vehicle while DUI, involuntary manslaughter, and two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol for the death of 43-year-old Melissa Morrissey.

On Jan. 16, 2021, Sosnowski was driving over the speed limit on Route 422 in North Cornwall Township when he crashed into a tree that had fallen across the road, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Dugan, who prosecuted the case. The collision caused a large limb to penetrate Sosnowski’s windshield, striking Morrissey, who was a front seat passenger.

Morrissey suffered severe head injuries and died at the scene.

Sosnowski’s blood-alcohol level was .135%, higher than Pennsylvania’s .08% legal limit.

Dugan told LebTown that Sosnowski did not testify at the trial. The jury took about two hours to reach a unanimous verdict.

Because Sosnowski had an earlier DUI conviction – in 2016, when he crashed into a fast-food restaurant’s drive-through lane and fled – he faces a mandatory five-year minimum jail sentence on the homicide by vehicle while DUI charge, and a possible 20-year maximum. The minimum would have been three years without a prior conviction, according to Dugan.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 27 before President Judge John Tylwalk, who presided over the trial.

“Any case where someone has lost their life is a difficult case to try,” Dugan said in a press release issued by the District Attorney’s office. “As an attorney, you do your best to remove the emotions and focus on the facts and circumstances, but when you are meeting with the family and walking them through the legal process, that can sometimes be very difficult to do.

“I greatly appreciate the jurors from our community that invested their time and energy before reaching what I believe is the verdict Melissa deserved.”

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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