Man accused of killing 3-year-old in hit-and-run pleads not guilty

June 04, 2018 05:10 PM

A Mount Morris man pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the hit-and-run crash Saturday night that killed a Rochester toddler.

Prosecutors said 48-year-old Frank Cassata intentionally drove his car into a group of people along Lyell Avenue, striking and 3-year-old Amir Pallet and injuring his 23-year-old cousin Abriel Fair.

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According to court paperwork, Cassata was drunk when he got into an argument with a man at a neighbor's house. Cassata then got in his car and intentionally drove onto the sidewalk attempting to hit that man. When he missed, Cassata drove toward a group of people on the lawn next door, hitting Pallet and Fair.

Monday, Cassata pleaded not guilty to murder in the second degree, vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, DWI, and refusal to take a breath test.

Amir's family was in court Monday morning and were very emotional when they saw Cassata for the first time. Outside of the courtroom, they hugged and reminisced about the toddler. 

"I was right there," Fair said. "I was just a minute or a second away from grabbing him. I had my hand out to grab him and I couldn't grab him fast enough. I was right there and now every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing that baby."

"My baby is gone," Pallet's mother, Sophia Benitez said. "I have to sit here and explain to my other kids that their brother's not coming back. I have to walk in my house this morning and see my baby's stuff laying around. Like how do you do that to're freaking evil."

Police said after hitting the toddler and his cousin, Cassata fled the scene and then hit another car at Lake Avenue and Phelps Avenue.

Cassata will remain in the Monroe County Jail without bail. 

Frank Cassata got off parole last year after spending eight years in state prison following a conviction on burglary and robbery charges in Livingston County. He also spent a year behind bars following a conviction for criminal possession of a forged instrument in Monroe County.    


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