EXCLUSIVE: A Marine veteran was sentenced today to a plea-bargained seven years in state prison for a drunk driving crash that killed two men who were changing a tire off Route 80 in Saddle Brook.
Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi denied a defense attorney’s plea for leniency on the vehicular homicide conviction, saying that the decision by Jacob Cintron to drink and drive on Oct. 2, 2011 was a purposeful act.
Cintron, a 31-year-old father of two from Lodi, led an exemplary life until then, the judge said.
However, she said: “I expect people to be of good character, and to be productive members of society.”
DeAvila-Silebi also said she was concerned because Cintron came from a home with two parents he believed to be functional alcoholics.
“That should have deterred you from drinking and driving,” she told Cintron.
Cintron apologized to the families of the victims, Wilfredo Pena and Virgilio Segundo-Fernandez-Urena, both of New York.
“From the bottom of my heart, I apologize now,” he said. “I hope we can all go in peace and move on.”
His wife sat in the rear of the courtroom, tearful and red-eyed.
Defense attorney Michael Beatrice tried to cast the two victims as being partially at fault.
They were on the side of the road changing a tire in an area marked for emergency stops, then walked in front of Cintron in a poorly lighted area of the roadway, he said.
Segundo-Fernandez-Urena’s mother, who was a passenger in the car, rejected the defense attorney’s theory, as did Pena’s brother-in-law, Roland Villachez.
“The boys were not outside of the lined area where they were changing the tire, and he knows that,” she said.
“The car got locked with the impact,” she added. “My daughter –in-law and I were inside the car, shouting desperately for help. He came close to the car, and he made no attempt to open the door, or do anything.”
Cintron had just exited Route 80 East at 62B when his Hyundai struck the two men.
Roland Villachez, Pena’s brother-in-law and best friend, said he named Pena legal guardian of his children in his will a couple of months before the accident.
The night of the crash, he said, “my wife called and told me there was a terrible accident.
“I left Manhattan to drive there, and I heard on 1010 WINS radio that two males had been run over by a car.
“At the scene I saw the car in a perfectly lit area with a triangle on the back,” he said. “It looked like they were fixing a flat tire.
“I was told by the troopers at the scene that my brother-in-law and his friend were both dead.”
Villachez said Cintron’s car appeared to be about two city blocks away.
“It looked to me like he was trying to escape. He hit them, and he didn’t stop – instead he dragged the bodies, torturing them and ripping parts from their bodies.
“He did something very bad. His decision was to get drunk, drive home, take out two people who had kids, refuse a Breathalyzer — they had to take blood.”
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney balanced the pleas to the judge.
“Mr. Cintron did not set out that night to hurt anyone. I acknowledge, concede it,” Delaney said. “But it’s no difference legally. The standard is reckless behavior and requires no specific intent.
“He didn’t mean to hurt anybody, and yet they suffered grievous, unrecoverable harm.”
Whether or not the victims were in the road makes no difference, Delaney emphasized.
“He was intoxicated and driving. And as a result, this crash happened,” the prosecutor said. “The victims suffered fatal injuries, regardless of where they were standing, whether there was lighting or not.
“It was an unintended consequence of an intentional act.”
All told, DeAvila-Silebi sentenced Cintron to four years for driving recklessly and causing the death of Pena and three more years for the death of Segundo-Fernandez-Urena.
He must also pay more than $3,000 to the state Victims of Crime Compensation fund.
Cintron also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, which DeAvila-Silebi said is the second leading cause of deaths in the United States.
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