The State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that a veteran Cromwell lawmaker will not be charged in connection with the January freezing death of a Rocky Hill woman.
In this press release, it says that New Britain State’s Attorney Scott Murphy determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Rep. James O’Rourke, D-Cromwell, with criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of Carol Sinsigalli.
In an unusual move state prosecutors decided to publicly announce its denial of the arrest warrant because the case had received so much publicity.
The press release details the events which occurred Jan. 21 and Jan. 22 and how Murphy reached his conclusion.
According to the press release, O’Rourke arrived at Digger McDuff’s around 11 p.m., Jan. 21 after attending a University of Connecticut basketball game.
“Shortly after arriving he saw Ms. Sinisgalli, who he knew from a mutual friend Joseph Cardillo, and said hello to her. About twenty minutes later he observed a disturbance between Ms. Sinisgalli and the wheelchair-bound patron. A few minutes after that disturbance ended, Mr. O’Rourke prepared to leave the bar but was advised to exit through the rear door because Ms. Sinisgalli was out front and was not allowed back in the bar. He told police that he may have heard that the police were coming. Mr. O’Rourke exited through the rear door and walked over to his vehicle, intending to drive home. Mr. O’Rourke told police that he consumed 1 ½ beers that night.”
After exiting the bar, O’Rourke told the police that “Ms. Sinisgalli, without being invited, opened the rear door of his vehicle, got into the back seat and said she needed a ride to her home in Rocky Hill.”
O’Rourke told police that he was concerned about her operating her vehicle after having too much to drink. As he drove toward Rocky Hill, O’Rourke said Sinisgalli refused to speak to him, so he called their mutual acquaintance. O’Rourke’s phone records show a series of calls between him and Cardillo.
During the phone conversation Cardillo told O’Rourke that Sinisgalli lived in a condo off Dividend Road.
“After driving approximately a mile on Dividend Road, he turned right into a road in which there were a number of residential buildings. He asked Ms. Sinisgalli if she lived in one of these residences but she continued to be uncooperative,” the press release says.
O’Rourke told the police that he turned back onto Dividend Road and Sinisgalli lunged between the seats, pulled on the rearview mirror and the heating vents and knocked his glasses off. Photographs taken of the vehicle of Mr. O’Rourke showed damage to the heating vent.
When he stopped the car on Dividend Road, near the intersection with Laurel Street, Sinisgalli exited the vehicle and ran across the road, climbing over a snow bank.
The temperature at the time was approximately fourteen degrees.
O’Rourke told police he didn’t know Sinisgalli was barefoot when she exited the vehicle and believed she was close to her home.
The investigation further determined that Ms. Sinisgalli, after exiting the vehicle walked the length of Laurel Street and entered a driveway leading to the rear of a closed industrial building. She then walked toward the railroad tracks, which is where her body was found by a cross-country skier on Jan. 22.
Prosecutors concluded there was no evidence gathered during the police investigation to contradict O’Rourke’s version of the events. The state determined that O’Rourke “did not assume a duty to protect Ms. Sinisgalli by agreeing to drive her home.”
The arrest warrant contemplates whether O’Rourke had a duty to call police after Sinisgalli exited his vehicle.
“O’Rourke claimed that he did not call the police because he believed that she was near her home and knew where she was going. Whether his conclusion was reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances then known to him, is questionable,” the press release says. “However, because Mr. O’Rourke did not have a legal obligation to protect Ms. Sinisgalli, his failure to call the police cannot be the basis for a finding of criminal negligence.”
“No Connecticut case has been found that states that a person assumes a duty to protect an intoxicated person by agreeing to drive that person home,” the press release says.
Prosecutors determined that Sinisgalli voluntarily exited the vehicle and it was the unfortunate route she took to a virtually isolated area, which led to her tragic death.
“It was this series of decisions made by Ms. Sinisgalli that led to her tragic death,” the press release says.
“This has been a tragic situation for everyone involved,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan said in an emailed statement. “I am pleased the matter has been fully investigated by the Office of the State’s Attorney, that no criminal charges will be brought against Representative O’Rourke, and that he can now move forward.”
Donovan said he would be talking to O’Rourke over the coming days about his future role in the legislature.
When news that the police had submitted an arrest warrant for O’Rourke to prosecutors, Donovan, demoted him from his role as Deputy Speaker, saying he wanted to give O’Rourke time to deal with the situation.