West Seneca Man Indicted on Criminally Negligent Homicide Charge for Argument Over Face Mask That Resulted in Death of Elderly Bar Patron

Modified: May 10, 2021 12:03pm

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Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 65-year-old Donald M. Lewinski of West Seneca was arraigned this morning before Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio on an indictment charging him with one count of Criminally Negligent Homicide (Class “E” felony).

It is alleged that on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at approximately 7:45 p.m., the defendant and an elderly man argued inside a bar on Southwestern Boulevard in the Town of West Seneca. The argument allegedly involved the defendant not adhering to the face mask requirement while inside the establishment. The defendant allegedly pushed the victim, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on the floor.

The victim, 80-year-old Rocco E. Sapienza of West Seneca, was taken to ECMC where he died from his injuries several days later. His cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

Lewinski is scheduled to return on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. for a phone pre-trial conference. Judge DiTullio set bail at $10,000 and continued previous release conditions set by West Seneca Town Court Justice Shannon Filbert that prohibits the defendant from entering any bar or establishment that serves alcohol.

If convicted on all charges, Lewinski faces up to four years in prison.

DA Flynn commends Detectives Duane Wisniewski and James Kocieniewski of the West Seneca Police Department for their work in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Chief Gary W. Hackbush of the Homicide Bureau.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.