A Leonardo NJ woman has reportedly pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with a hit-and-run accident in Middletown that resulted in the death of a teenage girl.
The fatal car accident occurred around dusk on July 7, 2015. Toni Marletta, a 50-year-old resident of Leonardo, was behind the wheel of a car and driving on Route 36 in Middletown NJ when she crashed into a pedestrian. At the time, the victim was attempting to walk across the intersection of Route 36 and Avenue D.
After slamming into the victim, Marletta allegedly fled the scene of the crash. It is believed that three 16-year-old girls were passengers in the vehicle and witnessed the fatal accident.
Other motorists saw the injured pedestrian and dialed 911 to alert local law enforcement. Emergency medical responders quickly arrived at the scene of the accident and rushed the victim to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune City, NJ. The victim, Marissa Procopio, was listed in critical condition with catastrophic injuries, including massive head trauma. Tragically, doctors took her off life support approximately 24 hours after the car accident. Procopio lived in Highlands NJ and was just 15 years of age when she tragically died in the pedestrian accident.
Charges for Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident in Middletown NJ
Middletown police officers eventually tracked down Marletta’s car outside her home on Thompson Avenue in Leonardo, New Jersey. Marletta was initially charged with vehicular manslaughter. A conviction on the felony-level charges could have resulted in a sentence of as many as 30 years in NJ State Prison.
Marletta was arraigned on June 20, at which time the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office made her a plea offer: agree to plead guilty to criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident and endangering the welfare of a child in exchange for prosecutors dropping the more serious charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Marletta ultimately decided to accept the plea deal. She appeared in Monmouth County Superior Court and entered her plea on the criminal charges. She will have to make another appearance in superior court in December for a formal sentencing hearing, with prosecutors expected to recommend that she be sentenced to seven years in New Jersey State Prison.
One person who believes that Marletta is getting off too lightly is the victim’s mother, Danielle Procopio. She recently spoke to the media and expressed anger at the idea that Marletta could potentially be released from prison in as few as three years.
Family Members of Accident Victim Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
While the family members of the victim may not feel as though justice is being served in the criminal courts, they still have the option of filing a wrongful death claim against Marletta and pursuing justice in the civil courts. That’s because New Jersey law allows the family members who have tragically lost a loved one to seek compensation for pain and suffering loss of future income, and other damages when the victim died as a result of someone else’s negligence.
To learn more about this personal injury case, see the following article: Toni Marletta Pleads Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run That Killed Girl, 15