Woman Who Crashed into Local Doorman, Killing Him, Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter


The aftermath of the crash on 98th and West End.

Jessenia Fajardo, who drove into doorman Alfred Pocari on West End Avenue and 98th Street in July 2019, killing him and seriously injuring another bystander, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, according to District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Pocari, 62, was a beloveddoorman at 785 West End Avenue, and a grandfather of triplets. He had immigrated from Albania.

Fajardo had told West Side Rag in an interview after the crash that she did not see the pedestrians crossing West End at 98th when she drove through the intersection. Video showed she had a red light at the time. Fajardo had said “I truly don’t recall seeing the red light at all.”

Fajardo had a history of other charges, including alleged driving-related offenses. Along with her manslaughter plea, the D.A.’s office said she was charged with injuring “a third victim in a separate, unrelated vehicular incident.” Vance said in a statement that the case showed how difficult it can be to keep drivers with poor driving histories off the road.

“Our laws are fundamentally broken when it takes the death of a fellow New Yorker to get a driver with a history of reckless conduct off the road, as is demonstrated in this case. Pedestrians and cyclists in our City and State remain under constant threat of vehicular violence, which is why my Office empaneled a New York State grand jury and drafted the Vehicular Violence Accountability Act based on their recommendations, and why we strongly supported the Reckless Driver Accountability Act and speed safety camera program.”

Fajardo is scheduled to be sentenced in March.

NEWS | 32 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      How does it take 1.5 years for this to happen? I know things have slowed down due to Covid, but this is ridiculous. Has she been in jail the whole time? This should have been resolved (seems pretty open and shut to me), but she is also entitled to a timely trial.

      Speaking of long ago cases, what happened to the woman in 710 WEA who allegedly killed her neighbor?

      • Joy Bergmann says:

        Anya Johnston, the woman accused of killing her neighbor, Susan Trott, remains at Rikers and continues to have appearance court dates. There has not yet been any trial or deal, according to court databases.

      • Jean says:

        Jury duties have been suspended and slowed because of covid. I served as one before the city has to stop summoning jurors. The whole court system is backed up because of COVID and the inability to gather and socially distance safely.

        • Juan says:

          I understand but this happened eight months before Covid, so it should have gone to trial during that time, or at least been at the top of the list to go to trial once things slowed down. Our court system is incredibly inefficient. The money spent to hire more judges would more than be offset by the savings of not having people sitting in jail waiting for trials.

          • B.B. says:

            Eight months is nothing, criminal cases in NYC and or even other parts of NYS routienly drag on for well over a year before trial even begins.

            What do you think is (or was) behind the whole bail reform movement? On similar note also behind all but one borough DA’s not prosecuting various “low level” offenses.

    2. madashell says:

      LOCK HER UP!

    3. Albert Zimmerman says:

      Perhaps these repeated traffic violations and reckless driving should be reported to insurance companies, aith an advisory that they may be held accountable if the insured causes any injuries or deaths. Maybe then they will decide that the driver is an unacceptable risk and either refuse to insure them or raise their rates to compensate for the increased liability.

      • LK says:

        She didn’t have insurance. She had her license suspended. The car should have been impounded long ago – this just shows how helpless the society is facing the criminals…

        • Erica says:

          The car was not hers, it was borrowed (KNOW THE FACTS). This was an accident. This woman is not a criminal. So sick of the blood thirst from our community. Who benefits from her going to prison? What does it solve? Be better!

          • HelenD says:

            She had a previous record and she shouldn’t have been driving AT ALL. It doesn’t matter if the car belonged to someone else. And how did she not SEE the red light or the people that she hit? Maybe she shouldn’t go to jail, maybe there’s a bigger problem here, but are you going to personally make sure that she never gets behind the wheel of a car again?!

          • June C. says:

            “This was an accident.” Does that mean that Mr. Pocari is any less dead? Everything should be forgiven as long as she is “sorry?” She drove through a red light, and has no recollection of doing that. Nor did she “see” the pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk. She should NOT be driving, and she needs to be punished, “accident” or not.

          • Joseph R. Giordano says:

            I agree

          • Janice says:

            Hey Erica,

            She KILLED somebody. And seriously injured someone else. She belongs in jail. Period. There are consequences for crimes.

            When you drive, it is your job to pay attention to red lights and pedestrians. I’ve driven on WEA countless times (including turning from 97th on WEA) and the fact is, it is easy to see pedestrians and easy to see the lights (unless you’re speeding and trying to make the light).

          • msgrandoni says:

            I think the woman is a criminal-this is a second incident where she injured someone. She went thru a red light that she ‘didn’t see’…?? How does a driver do that. She killed someone and broke a family’s heart. She is a criminal and should pay with jail time.

          • Spoiler says:

            “KNOW THE FACTS??!!??” Erica, the FACT is that driving without a license or insurance is a criminal act. Manslaughter is a criminal act.

            “I didn’t mean to” doesn’t absolve the perpetrator from responsibility for their crimes.

            “Who benefits from her going to prison? What does it solve? Be better!”

            Being sent to prison for committing a crime is NOT about whether an individual benefits from the incarceration (though it could be argued that she will benefit from being able to figure out the relationship between crime and punishment), it’s about society benefitting because an offender is off the streets, and it’s about punishment for committing a crime. Be smarter.

          • Brian says:

            This wasn’t an accident. While she didn’t wake up that morning and decide to kill someone, she did decide to break a number of laws intended to protect all of us from a previously established dangerous driver. The end result of her callousness for her fellow human beings was that she killed someone. As a punishment to her, and deterrence to others, she needs to go to prison.

        • TB says:

          My understanding is that she had to borrow a friend’s car that day, not even her own. Alfred was our doorman.

      • Boris says:

        You obviously don’t know much about the insurance industry because what you want is essentially already in practice. Unless you’re suggesting that an insurance company be held responsible beyond the insured limits of liability.

      • B.B. says:

        Then people just drive without insurance. Happens all the time in New York.

        Obviously someone who has racked up two, three, four or more motor vehicle actions for driving without a license, drunk driving, or whatever isn’t going to be bothered by having their license taken away.

        As Madea says in that movie “go ahead take my license away, I’ve still got keys..”

    4. Robert Chemtob says:

      Lock her up for a long time. Her car is a weapon and she’s used it to maim many a time. Enough! justice for the Pocari family and those of the many Albanian immigrants.

    5. Tag Gross says:

      Yes she was a dangerous and reckless driver but DOT, elected officials and CB7 were warned of the dangerous situation on this stretch caused by the redesign of West End and the mis-timed traffic lights.

    6. Christine Jaworsky says:

      We live at 785 WEA, “Alfred’s building.” Each time I cross over that crosswalk on my way to Broadway I think about Alfred and this senseless loss of life. Each and every day.

      Blessings to Alfred and to his beloved family.

    7. Jessica Brockington says:

      In wonder how the other woman hit at the same time as Mr. Pocari is doing now. She remained anonymous. I hope she has recovered.

    8. UwsJeff says:

      I hope all you folks decrying delays in justice system get called for jury or grand jury duty. You are clueless.

    9. Marjorie says:

      Has anyone noticed the uptick in accidents and vehicular incidents since everyone is driving with their phones on?

      • HelenD says:

        I don’t know if reports are showing that drivers are using their phones, but now that I have the Citizen app I take my phone out of my pocket every time I get an alert, when in the past I was never one to walk/talk while using it. Someone was struck by a vehicle on 83rd street at the same time this article was posted, and this morning it happened again at 70th and WEA. There have been dozens of incidents between 68th-74th and Columbus and WEA the last few months, and twice it was posted as ‘using vehicle as a weapon.’ I never see anything reported on the news though.

    10. Sarah says:

      This is a tough one. This is a grown woman and apparently experienced driver who has repeatedly demonstrated that she can’t, for whatever reason, drive safely, BUT insists on doing so, to the point of evading restrictions on her right to drive (by borrowing someone else’s car). One of the few cases where there’s a real incapacitation argument for incarceration–does anyone doubt that she’ll be out there driving again? I’d like the city to have a couple years where we didn’t have to worry that she’d kill someone. This woman’s selfishness is just staggering.

    11. B.B. says:

      Everything you need to know is right here:

      “The Manhattan District Attorney is recommending a sentence of five to 15 years, the maximum under New York law for second-degree manslaughter. The judge has promised Fajardo a sentence of two to six years. ”

      https://www.recordonline.com/story/news/2020/12/07/woman-formerly-walden-pleads-guilty-in-fatal-crash/3858333001/

      Jessenia Fajardo plead guilty to two felonies and one misdemeanor, but likely will serve barely three years (if that) in prison.

    12. B.B. says:

      There has been some effort in Albany to tighten up NYS’s notoriously weak traffic laws when drivers cause death and or serious injury.

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for Vehicular Violence Accountability Act to become law.

      https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A09605&term=2019&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y&Committee%26nbspVotes=Y&Floor%26nbspVotes=Y

    13. B.B. says:

      Why new laws are needed in NYS…

      Under current traffic/vehicle laws in NYS prosecutors must prove *intent* when it comes to fatal or vehicular accidents that cause major harm. In other states the bar is set at the lower “failure to exercise due care.

      https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/10/30/pols-offer-new-law-to-hold-reckless-drivers-accountable/