first_imgBy John BurtonFREEHOLD — State Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Reisner had stern words for Toni Marletta, as Marletta faced sentencing for a 2015 hit-and-run collision that left a girl dead.“You cannot leave someone on the side of the road to die. And that’s what happened here,” Reisner told an emotionally shaken Marletta when she appeared before him in court last Friday to hear her fate.As expected, on Dec. 2 Reisner sentenced Marletta to seven years in state prison for her guilty plea for knowingly leaving the scene of an accident in a fatality in the second degree; and an additional four years for the third-degree count of endangering the welfare of a minor. Reisner also sentenced Marletta to a six-month prison term for failure to have auto insurance and a one-year loss of her driving license. All the penalties stem from Marletta causing the death of Marissa Procopio, a 15-year-old Atlantic Highlands resident.Marletta will serve all the terms concurrently.Marletta had pleaded guilty before Reisner in September.Reisner said that under state statute anyone convicted of killing someone in an auto collision and then leaving the scene must receive a prison sentence. And as far as the judge was concerned, “The legislators got this exactly right.”“You must go to jail,” Reisner told Marletta.Marletta offered a sobbing, voice-quivering allocution expressing remorse aimed at the court and for Danielle Procopio-Adams, mother of Marissa, the victim. She also told how “I will never be able to come back,” from this and recognized Procopio-Adams’ grief, as Marletta is also the mother of a teenage daughter.Procopio-Adams, overcome by tears, left the table in the front of the court as Marletta was speaking.The victim’s father, Michael Quan, became distraught, rushing out of the courtroom and leaving prosecutor Meghan Doyle to read his letter, expressing Quan’s loss and telling how his daughter “put so many smiles on everyone’s face,” with her personality. “We will never get to know what a wonderful person she would have become,” Quan’s letter continued.“Every day I miss her,” Quan said through his letter.Marletta, now 50, who lives in Middletown’s Leonardo section, was charged with striking Procopio with her car as the youth crossed at a traffic-lighted intersection of state Highway 36 and Avenue D in Leonardo, at approximately 8:24 p.m. on July 7, 2015.Marletta fled the scene but an investigation led police to Marletta’s vehicle later that evening.Procopio was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Trauma Center, where she died the next day from her injuries.Marletta’s attorney, Peter O’Mara, had said previously that Marletta had her 16-year-old daughter and two of her daughter’s 16-year-old girl friends in the car at the time. They were on their way back from an area supermarket, where they were picking up snacks for the girls’ planned sleepover. According to O’Mara, Marletta had panicked and fled the scene because she had recently let her car insurance expire; she had contacted police when she had sufficiently calmed down, O’Mara said.O’Mara told the judge his client had no criminal record and a clean driving record. “She had no prior record whatsoever.” Marletta is divorced and was raising a teenage daughter as a single mother, trying to earn a living, and cared for her grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, the lawyer added.Marletta’s daughter, O’Mara told the court, “has been living in purgatory,” subject to being victimized on social media platforms and in school.“This was not premediated. This was not something she planned,” O’Mara argued on Marletta’s behalf, believing his client has “expressed special regret.”“She is going to jail and her life will never be the same,” O’Mara offered. “No one in this courtroom will ever be the same.”Doyle offered a differing view of the defendant. The prosecutor referred to the pre-sentencing report, which presented Marletta as indifferent to anyone other than herself. In the report, “This defendant talks about how it affects her,” Doyle pointed out, believing, “She didn’t care about her daughter or about her daughter’s friends… And she didn’t care about the victim.”Doyle alleged Marletta didn’t call police until she was confronted by the parents of her daughter’s friends, who the girls called when they got back to Marletta’s home. And that Marletta needed alcohol before being able to contact authorities, Doyle said.“The state does believe the sentence is appropriate,” Doyle concluded.Reisner referenced the police investigation and analysis which indicated it was still daylight and Marletta would have had a clear view of the intersection. The report showed no evidence that Marletta had swerved or braked in any attempt to miss the victim, Reisner noted.Reisner acknowledged, “In short, this is an unbelievable tragedy that affects so many lives.” And with that he brought down his gavel and Marletta was led away in handcuffs by sheriff’s officers.The proceeding offered an emotionally drained Procopio-Adams some comfort and closure. “To watch her (Marletta) get taken out in handcuffs,” she said after the court hearing, “that made me feel better.” But that may only be for the moment, she added. “A month from now,” how she will feel? “Who knows?” Procopio-Adams said.Procopio-Adams said she has begun pursuing a civil lawsuit against Marletta.last_img

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