Marlon Sewell, 39, was released without bail Monday night after his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree and driving without a license — charges stemming from his fateful split-second decision just 24 hours before to swerve away from a city bus and into a sidewalk full of pedestrians on Fulton Street at South Portland Avenue, killing 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus and injuring two others.
Sewell was also arrested in March for driving without a license, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed, and he was ticketed a total of $450 this year for sticker violations and speeding through school zones, as DNAinfo first reported. His license had been suspended due to failure to stay up to date in paying child support. He told police that he had recently been laid off from his car-cleaning job at a local airport.
He faces a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail if convicted.
Sewell is due back in court on January 11, allowing him time to celebrate the holidays with his family — which Nicodemus’ family are in mourning over having to mark without their most enthusiastic of holiday cheerleaders.
“She is a creative whirlwind and mastermind,” said one of her brothers, Hank Miller, 49, to the New York Times. “Most families are happy with simple decoration; she always went more extravagant and beautiful and artful. . . I don’t know if I’ve still really accepted that she is gone. It’s devastating.”
Nicodemus had been out shopping for decorations for her Christmas tree when she and her 39-year-old boyfriend, as well as a 75-year-old woman, were hit by Sewell’s car.
“I can’t tell how good it makes me feel that she was pursuing a career in a field that she was passionate about,” Miller added, referring to her career in art and job as curator of public art installations around the country. “An interest in art was just in her DNA.”
Meanwhile, for residents and neighbors along Fulton Street and elsewhere in Fort Greene, the tragedy remains fresh even as life continues on. A sidewalk memorial of flowers and lit candles sprung up outside Habana To Go and Not Ray’s Pizza shortly after police and crime scene investigators cleared away the evidence and debris, and residents remain concerned for public safety in an area that is a shopping/commercial magnet for both pedestrians and drivers alike from across the borough and city.
“Safe and responsible driving methods are vital to ensuring the health and safety of pedestrians, motorists and all members of our community,” added Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Stephen Levin in a statement.
Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives called for more and consistent speed enforcement by the NYPD, via manpower and automated cameras, and added that “we also call on state lawmakers to take action on State Senator Michael Gianaris’ legislation to toughen penalties for motorists who kill while driving without a valid license.”