Driver indicted in Charity hit-and-run

A truck driver is facing criminal charges in connection with the hit-and-run death of a Geneseo student on I-390 in October.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, a Livingston County grand jury indicted John Martarello of Butternuts, N.Y., on charges of first-degree perjury and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it. Both are felonies.

The student, 20-year-old junior Kaitlin Charity, was struck by three vehicles after being pulled over by a state police officer at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 20.

The officer took off to pursue another speeder, an off-duty Dansville village police officer, after which Charity got out of her car to go to the side of the road. She was struck by the vehicles while returning to her car, police said.

According to Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran, Martarello is not in custody and has not yet been arraigned. Because of this, he could not elaborate on the perjury charge.

No date has been set for the arraignment.

"We expect that he'll be here soon to answer the charges," Moran told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Wednesday.

The investigation surrounding the incident is closed, Moran said. The two other drivers, whose names were not released, will not face any charges.

At least two of the drivers claimed they believed they'd hit a deer, police have said.

The investigation has revealed that after the accident, Martarello - the first to strike Charity - briefly pulled over to fix a leaking fuel line caused by the impact and later stopped to wash his tractor-trailer before continuing to his destination, a Wegmans grocery store in Gates, just west of Rochester.

A second driver involved in the accident also stopped in Geneseo to wash off debris.

Moran praised the police work that tracked down the drivers of the three vehicles in less than a week after the event.

"In six days, [police] found a needle in a haystack," Moran told the Democrat and Chronicle. He called the police work "herculean."

Charity, an English and secondary education major, was from East Islip, N.Y. She was involved in Nassau Hall Council for several years, tutored a sixth grader at Geneseo Central School, and was a member of the Elementary and Secondary Education Association.

"While nothing can bring Kaitlin back, the college community, and especially Kaitlin's friends, can take some measure of comfort knowing the seriousness with which this matter is being addressed - and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," the college said in a statement after the indictment was announced.

The college held a memorial service for Charity on Nov. 1.

Editor's note: The Dec. 6 issue was the last of the Fall 2007 semester. On Jan. 31, we will return with the first issue of the Spring 2008 semester. For continuing coverage of the Charity case until then, please consult local Rochester news sources.