Man pleads not guilty in hit-and-run that killed North Syracuse man; 4 others face charges

Vontelle M. Sparks is seen at his arraignment Tuesday night in court (CNYCentral Photo)

Several people face charges in connection to a hit and run that claimed the life of a man riding his bicycle, including the alleged driver of the vehicle that struck him.

New York State Police announced 33-year-old Vontelle M. Sparks, of Camillus, faces charges of Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident, Tampering with Physical Evidence, Conspiracy and Moving from Lane Unsafely for the crash that claimed the life of Lawrence Maturo on Monday.

The charges were announced shortly after Sparks was led out of the state police barracks in North Syracuse in handcuffs on Tuesday. Sparks, who troopers had identified as a person they wanted to question, had turned himself in with his lawyer present.

If you're viewing this article on our mobile app, click here to watch the full state police announcement.

As he was led to a state police vehicle, Sparks remained silent when asked if he had anything to say. State police said Sparks was taken to the Onondaga County Justice Center and is due to be arraigned later in the day.

Sparks was arraigned Tuesday evening and pleaded not guilty. He is being held on $150,000 cash bond. He will be back in court on June 18.

Four other people face charges related to the deadly hit and run, according to state police:

  • Ashley Cuozzo, 30, of Jamesville: Investigators identified her as Sparks' girlfriend. She faces charges of Tampering with Physical Evidence and Conspiracy.
  • Sylvester Livingston, 54, of Jamesville: Identified by state police as Cuozzo's father, Livingston faces a charge of Falsely Reporting an Incident.
  • Michelle Livingston, of Jamesville: Identified as Cuozzo's mother, Michelle Livingston is accused of Tampering with Physical Evidence and Conspiracy.
  • Lakeya Sparks, 39, of Syracuse: State police say Lakeya is Vontelle's sister: She faces charges of Tampering with Physical Evidence and Conspiracy.

Investigators said more arrests are possible as the investigation continues.

Maturo, 27, and his bicycle were found by a passerby and a trooper in the Town of Clay just outside the village of North Syracuse within moments of the collision at about 6:30 a.m. Monday; the passerby told state police they saw debris fly into the air from the collision. Troopers say Maturo was heading to his home from Planet Fitness and was just .2 miles away from his house when he was struck.

Maturo was taken to Upstate University Hospital's trauma center in "very critical condition," according to state police. He was then pronounced dead at 10:24 a.m., officials said.

Authorities said Maturo appeared to be riding his bicycle along the shoulder of Taft Road heading west with the flow of traffic when he was struck from behind by a vehicle. It isn't currently known how fast the vehicle that struck him was traveling.

Investigators said later Monday morning that they were looking for a small gray or silver SUV with windshield and front end damage; the vehicle was found ditched on Carbon Street near Hiawatha Boulevard in Syracuse, according to state police. Investigators said Tuesday media coverage highlighting the search for that vehicle led to a tip about its whereabouts.

Asked on Tuesday why Sparks fled the scene, investigators said he apparently panicked. Asked if Sparks is suspected of having alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, state police said, "At this point that's part of the investigation."

Investigators said at this point it appears Sparks was alone at the time of the crash.

Records show Sparks was arrested just last year in Onondaga County for aggravated unlicensed operation. The state DMV says his license was suspended at the time of the crash.

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