GROTON, N.Y.—The Tompkins County District Attorney, Matt Van Houten, has announced that a Groton man who was charged with several drunk driving-related charges in connection to a hit-and-run death of a woman last year pled guilty this week.

Jeffrey Skinner, 44, was charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of driving while intoxicated, and one count of leaving the scene of a personal injury incident without reporting, all of which are felonies, in the death of Cornell professor Jerrie Gavalchin on May 3, 2020.

Police claimed that Gavalchin was walking her bicycle on Lick Street in Groton when Skinner struck her with his vehicle, causing her fatal injuries. Skinner admitted to driving “while in an intoxicated condition,” and further admitted to leaving the scene of the accident without reporting it.

Witnesses at the time said they saw a pick-up truck fleeing the scene with a bike embedded in its grill.

“Jerrie Gavalchin was a beloved and highly respected professor at Cornell University. She had been married for almost 40 years and was a loving mother of an adult daughter,” read the press release from Van Houten’s office. “I would like to recognize the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police for their exemplary work which has now culminated in the defendant pleading guilty to all charges. While nothing can make this tragedy less painful for the victim’s family, the defendant’s acceptance of responsibility represents a small measure of justice.”

The sentencing has been scheduled for July 8, 2021 at 3 p.m.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at