Niagara Gazette

January 24, 2014

Grand jury indicts Taylor Clause on manslaughter, negligent homicide in May 19's fatal crash

By Rick Pfeiffer rick.pfeiffer@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Lewiston teen has pleaded not guilty to a 23-count grand jury indictment that charges her with driving drunk and high and killing a passenger in her car.

Taylor Clause entered that plea during an arraignment in State Supreme Court in Lockport on Thursday. She is charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, first-degree vehicular manslaughter, three counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, first-degree aggravated vehicular assault, first-degree vehicular assault, three counts of second-degree vehicular assault, three counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana, driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, imprudent speed, failure to reduce speed on a curve and failure to stay in a lane.

Clause, 18, was allowed to remain free on $5,000 bail. Her driver’s license has been suspended and State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. barred her from driving while she is on bail.

The teen is accused of being behind the wheel during a fatal crash May 19 on Walmore Road. The one-car rollover accident killed a Falls teenager, Jasmin Dubuc, 19 of Cayuga Drive.

Dubuc was ejected from the 2009 Mazda, being driven by Clause, after it failed to negotiate a curve while traveling north in the early morning hours on Walmore Road, near Mount Hope Road. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Clause, who suffered serious injuries, was taken to the Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight. She was originally listed in critical condition, but has since recovered.

Another passenger in the car, Jasmine Rickard, 18, of Upper Mountain Road, Sanborn, was also flown to ECMC by Mercy Flight. She was treated and then later released.

Accident investigators said none of the teens were wearing seat belts prior to the crash.

A blood sample from Clause revealed her blood alcohol content to be twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to a state police press release. Assistant District Attorney Theodore Brenner told Kloch that investigators took a blood sample from Clause at the hospital, after the accident.

The prosecutor also told the judge that investigators, armed with a search warrant, had taken the black box from Clause’s car, taken DNA swabs and seized her cell phone. 

In response to a question from Kloch, Brenner said there may be an issue with grand jury testimony given by Rickard. Rickard, who was reportedly a key witness against Clause, in the grand jury, was arrested on Jan. 4.

“She was arrested for DWI,” Brenner said, “and the police and I believe she lied about that incident.”

Rickard reportedly fled from the scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Hamm Road and Locust Street Extension in Lockport, After a search, sheriff’s deputies found Rickard at a Robinson Road convenience store.

Investigators said Rickard was driving south on Locust Street Extension and failed to stop at a stop sign. She struck another car that was traveling east on Hamm Road. 

The 64-year-old driver of the second car hospitalized with minor injuries. Rickard and two passengers in her car, an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old from Lewiston, were taken to Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport for treatment of minor injuries.

Rickard was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired by the combination of drugs and alcohol, leaving the scene of an injury accident, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and running a stop sign.