Guilty plea in Saratoga County's first Leandra's Law case

The defendant in Saratoga County's first Leandra's Law case pleaded guilty on Monday, April 19, according to information from Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy's office.

Michael J. Dillard, 23, faces a felony DWI charge stemming from an incident on Dec. 27 when he allegedly stole a vehicle in Ballston Spa and drove it to Galway, where he crashed on Antioch Road and State Route 29 with a BAC of .13 percent and five other people in the car, two younger than 16, according to information from Murphy's office. Dillard also pled to Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.

According to information from Murphy's office, three girls (two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old) received a call from Dean Atwell, 22, another occupant of the vehicle, asking if they'd like to \hang out with him, his 15-year-old brother and Dillard around 2 a.m. The girls reportedly met Atwell through MySpace and then met in person at the Price Chopper parking lot in Mechanicville, driving around randomly until the single-vehicle crash.

In a statement, Murphy said "This is the first Leandra's Law conviction in Saratoga County ... the new law allows for a felony conviction on a first time DWI when there is one or more persons in the car who are less than 16."

Murphy went on to say that all three girls as well as the 15-year-old boy and their families were referred to Saratoga County Family Court and Child Protective Services investigation.

Murphy said he finds this case "extremely troubling" because of young girls "friending" men in their 20s through a social networking site.

"We also will work with Child Protective Services to uncover how it was that these girls were able to meet at 2 a.m. at the Price Chopper parking lot and get into a stolen vehicle driven by a drunk man who they had never met," said Murphy in a statement.

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