Adams man arraigned on charges related to death of pedestrian
NORTH ADAMS — While backing his Jeep Wrangler out of Oasis Liquor Store onto Dean Street around 9:30 Friday morning, police say, store co-owner David Sookey Jr. struck 85-year-old Theresa Marby, knocking her to the ground.
Then, according to the police report, he shifted into drive and drove over her, causing massive trauma to her head and chest. She was pronounced dead a short time later at the North Adams Campus of Berkshire Medical Center.
Sookey did not report the Feb. 16 accident to authorities, then took “a series of systematic steps” to mislead police and impede the investigation, according to the report written by Adams Police Officer Greg Charon and made public at Sookey’s arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court on Wednesday.
Sookey, 61, who is being represented by attorney Stephen Pagnotta, reached an agreement with prosecutors Wednesday to set bail at $25,000 cash, which he posted immediately after his arraignment. Judge William Rota entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
Sookey, accompanied by members of his family and calm throughout the process, did not speak during the brief arraignment. Rota also ordered that Sookey not operate a motor vehicle while out on bail.
On Friday morning, Adams Police responded to a report of a pedestrian lying in the northbound lane of Dean Street, near the center of the road. They spoke with several people gathered at the scene, but none had witnessed the accident.
Richard Sookey, David Sookey Jr.'s brother and co-owner of the store, said that he did not see the accident and that there is no active surveillance coverage of the store’s exterior.
The victim was soon identified as Marby, who lived nearby, on Spring Street. She suffered significant trauma to her skull, a crushing chest injury and abrasions on her extremities, according to the report.
Police obtained security footage from the nearby Greylock Apartments, which, according to the police report, shows Marby walking in the roadway and raising her arms in what police believe was an attempt to get Sookey’s attention as he backed out from the store.
The report says the video shows Sookey’s Jeep knock Marby to the ground and, as it begins to drive forward, “quickly rising up and down in a jerking motion” that is believed to be the result of rolling over Marby.
Police interviewed Sookey inside his office at Oasis at 4 p.m. Friday.
Sookey told officers, “I thought I hit a pothole,” according to the police report, a claim that officers dismissed as “implausible,” based on the security footage.
Sookey told officers that, after receiving a text message from his brother about the accident, he began to wonder if he could have struck Marby.
Sookey allegedly showed officers his phone, but he had deleted all his messages and call history — a measure that police believe constitutes destruction of digital evidence.
Throughout the interview, Sookey maintained that he did not see Marby, whom he said he knew personally, as he backed onto Dean Street.
Sookey told officers that he had his vehicle washed at a car wash after the accident. Police obtained security footage from the Columbia Street car wash.
“Rather than contact law enforcement with his concerns, Sookey decided to take his vehicle to the car wash" because he said his car was dirty, police wrote in the criminal complaint. “This action represents a direct attempt to destroy potential biological and or trace evidence from the crash.”
Sookey, of East Road in Adams, pleaded not guilty to single counts of leaving the scene of personal injury that resulted in death, intimidating a witness and failure to use care in backing up.
After the arraignment, Pagnotta declined to comment on the case.
The Sookey family is a fixture of the Berkshire business community and has owned Oasis Liquor since the 1960s.
Sookey’s father, David I. Sookey, owned several small businesses in the Berkshires, including Sookey's Luncheonette, Sookey's Display Service and Sookey's Variety in Pittsfield, according to his 2004 obituary.
He bought the former Greylock Beverage Co. in Adams and renamed it Oasis Liquor Store and constructed a new building at Spring and Dean streets in 1967.
David Sookey Jr. is listed at the company’s president in filings with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Before his arraignment Wednesday, Sookey did not have a criminal record in Massachusetts, according to court officials. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 19.
Adam Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.
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