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Man sentenced to weekends in jail for crash that killed child

Nicholas Mineweaser

MAYVILLE – Judge Paul Wojtaszek has sentenced a former Lakewood resident to weekends in jail for four months beginning in June for driving while ability impaired by drugs in a crash that took the life of a young child.

On Friday, Nicholas Mineweaser was in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville to learn his fate after being found guilty in January for driving while ability impaired, but found not guilty for the more serious charge of vehicular manslaughter. Wojtaszek not only sentenced Mineweaser but also was the judge for the non-jury trial.

As part of the sentencing, Mineweaser also was fined $700 plus $395 in surcharges.

On Feb. 24, 2020, Mineweaser rear-ended a vehicle on Route 60 in the town of Pomfret, driven by Shanna Wilcox of Cassadaga, which caused that vehicle to be struck by a tractor trailer. Her 7-year-old daughter, Emmaline, perished in the accident.

The prosecution argued that Mineweaser was under the influence of marijuana while he was operating his vehicle and that caused the child’s death. Mineweaser’s attorney, Michael Dwan of Buffalo, countered that Route 60 is inherently dangerous and that his client was unable to avoid the accident.

The trial, which actually only had seven days in court, began in early November 2021 but went through multiple delays before the decision in January. There was Election Day. There were days a courtroom was unavailable. Other times, the judge or the prosecution had to delay due to other court trials. At one point, District Attorney Jason Schmidt was given a continuance so he could deal with evidence brought in by the defense that said Mineweaser had been involved in a vehicle accident in 2016 which had allegedly affected his ability to take the physical sobriety tests.

The trial wrapped up on Dec. 9. Wojtaszek said he wanted enough time to review the transcripts before issuing his decision. Due to Christmas and New Year’s holidays, as well as weather, he waited to announce his decision Jan. 7.

Mineweaser was originally scheduled to be sentenced April 8, but that was delayed for unspecified reasons until Friday.

During the trial, Schmidt brought in 12 people to testify — two area state troopers, one Fredonia Police Officer who was a drug recognition expert, one investigator, one toxicology expert, two Fredonia firefighters, Mineweaser’s former girlfriend, the tow truck driver, the tractor trailer driver, one witness, and Wilcox herself.

The defense, meanwhile, only had one person testify. That was Mineweaser’s mother, Mindy Gruver.

Schmidt said the decision to go with a bench trial instead of jury trial was made by the defense.

See the full story in this weekend’s OBSERVER and Post-Journal editions.

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