Wrongdoer Says His Own Father’s Death Led Him to Drink
A southern New Jersey man, facing sentencing for the death of a 9-year-old boy in a motor vehicle accident caused by his operating a vehicle while intoxicated, spoke to the family before the judge sentenced him, telling them that his father was killed by a drunk driver when he was 17, an event that started him down the path of alcoholism.
After the parents of the boy told Superior Court Judge Albert Garofolo that “not a day goes by” when they don’t think about their son, the defendant told the courtroom that he had much in common with the grieving family. Addressing the families of the victims for the first time (another boy was permanently paralyzed from the waist down), he confessed that his father’s death at the hands of a drunk driver led him to decades of alcohol abuse. After the hearing, the young boy who survived expressed puzzlement that the defendant could have caused others the same pain with which he lived for his entire adult life.
Prosecutors told jurors that the accident was “100 percent preventable,” They introduced testimony that the defendant had been drinking since 9 a.m. the morning of the accident, which occurred about 1 pm on April 10, 2011. When police arrived on the scene, they found an open can of beer in the defendant’s car, as well as three more beers in a cooler.
Police say the defendant rear-ended the vehicle carrying the two boys, pushing it into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by an Escalade. The father of the paralyzed boy, behind the wheel of the car, suffered injuries that still require the use of a cane. The defendant’s attorney claimed that the defendant took his eyes off the road momentarily to watch a baseball game being played in a field nearby.
The defendant was sentenced to 32 years in prison, and is not eligible for parole until he is 89.
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