TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—According to an announcement Friday from Tompkins County District Attorney Matthew Van Houten, a Groton man was sentenced to 4-12 years in prison after being convicted of vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the death of Jerrie Gavalchin in May 2020.

Jeffrey Skinner, 45 years old, was sentenced to 4-12 years on the first degree vehicular manslaughter charge, though he was also convicted on charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a personal injury incident without reporting. While Skinner was sentenced to 1-3 years and 2-4 years for those convictions, respectively, all three sentences will run concurrently. All of the charges are felonies.

The maximum legal sentence, according to Van Houten, would have been 5-15 years.

In the announcement, Van Houten continued that Skinner had admitted to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on May 3, 2020. Gavalchin, a beloved Cornell University professor and autoimmune system researcher in the Animal Science department, was walking her bike along Lick Street when Skinner hit her with his truck, which killed her. Skinner further admitted to leaving the scene without reporting the crash.

Both Samantha Batt and Carl Batt, the daughter and husband of Gavalchin, addressed the court during the sentencing hearing, though their comments were not included in the announcement. The Ithaca Voice has reached out to them for comment.

Van Houten said “It is my hope that the sentence imposed in this case will serve as a deterrent and an example of the devastating consequences of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Nothing the criminal justice system can do will ever provide true justice or closure to the victim’s family, but I believe that the court’s sentence today is a fair and appropriate outcome under the parameters of New York State law.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com