YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The vehicular homicide trial of two men for the death of a passenger during a road rage crash on the Garden State Parkway in Washington Township three years ago last week will be delayed amid maneuvers by their defense attorneys.
Lawyers for Thomas J. Vanderweit of Saddle Brook (above, right) and John C. Emili of Rockland County (above, left) were back before a judge today in bids to have recorded statements excluded and their clients tried separately.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney vowed to “vigorously oppose” any move to separate the trials of the two, who are charged in a Sunday morning July 1, 2012 crash near Exit 168 on the Garden State Parkway in Washington Township that killed 63-year-old Annetta Billingy of Teaneck.
Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti, meanwhile, told defense lawyers Paul Faugno and Ray Flood that she’d already rule that jurors could hear recorded statements by their clients at the accident scene but not those made at a New Jersey State Police barracks.
Both, in turn, said they were unaware that police recorded Vanderweit and Emili at the scene — and that both may not have been read their Miranda rights. They requested written transcripts of the recordings.
Delaney countered that he’s planning on using only a small portion of the recordings and suggested a meeting with the lawyers to review them, rather than have several hours of evidence transcribed.
The assistant prosecutor also revealed today that additional drivers placed calls to the NJSP Aggressive Driver Hotline, some of which he said may be used as evidence.
Authorities said the incident between Vanderweit, a power weight-lifter and former Clarkstown North High School football player from New City, began near the Route 17 exit on a Sunday morning.
Several witnesses told police both vehicles were being operated erratically, “making numerous lane changes, tailgating and travelling in excess of the posted speed limit,” State Police said at the time.
Emili had been tailgating Vanderweit’s 2007 Chevy Trail Blazer with his 2004 Honda Pilot when he tried passing him on an exit lane and lost control of the vehicle, an NJSP trooper told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
The SUV careened off the road, hit a guardrail and then hurtled back onto the Parkway, where it overturned and rammed into the side of the Blazer, which left the roadway itself and smashed a guardrail.
Billingy, an unrestrained rear passenger in Emili’s Honda, was ejected,.
A North Star Medi-Vac helicopter landed at the exit ramp and took the woman to Hackensack University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead,
Vandeweit, 30, has remained free since posting $100,000 bail hours after his arrest.
Emili, 23, was released after posting the same amount three days later.
STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia