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SENTENCING IN ASSAULT BY AUTO/DWI CASE

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Honorable Patricia B. Roe, J.S.C., sentenced Christina M. Guarnieri, 40, of Bayville, NJ, to 5 years probation on an Assault by Auto charge and 90 days in the Ocean County Jail for Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol, which is the maximum penalty for a second-time DWI offender. Guarnieri’s blood alcohol content was a .40% (five times the legal limit) at the time of the incident. This is defendant’s third DWI conviction, but because her last DWI was more than ten years ago, she was entitled to be sentenced as a second-time offender.

The sentencing stems from charges filed in a 2014 motor vehicle crash in Berkeley Township. On January 31, 2014, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Berkeley Township Police Officers responded to a serious motor vehicle crash near the intersection of Route 9 and Sylvan Lake Boulevard. The accident investigation found that Guarnieri had crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle occupied by Gerry and Josephine Morey of Berkeley Township.

Both victims sustained serious injuries. Mrs. Morey, a teacher in the Neptune Township School District who was an avid photographer and writer before the crash, suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured skull, broken thumb, crushed nerves and herniated discs. The effects of these injuries still impact Mrs. Morey’s daily life and career.

On April 6, 2015, Guarnieri pled guilty to Count 2 of the Indictment, which charged her with Assault by Auto (3rd degree) and DWI. At Friday’s sentencing, Mr. and Mrs. Morey, and their two children were present. When Mrs. Morey addressed the court, she explained that for 15 years, she has made herself available to her students so that they would never get into a vehicle with a drunk driver, or drive drunk themselves.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Jamie L. Schron, who argued for a State Prison term, citing the grave dangers of drunk driving, defendant’s excessive blood alcohol content and the extreme impact on the victim and her family.

The defendant’s attorney, Steven Hernandez, Esquire and Guarnieri, asked Judge Roe not to impose a period of incarceration primarily because she had no prior criminal record. Defendant said that a custodial sentence would entail an excessive hardship to her family. She also stated through her attorney that she did not contemplate the harm her conduct caused. Citing defendant’s excessive blood alcohol content and the need to deter drunk driving, Judge Roe imposed the above sentence.

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Detective David Margentino and Victim Witness Advocates Carol Froberg and Monica Schuler assisted Assistant Prosecutor Schron with the case prosecution.

CHRISTINA MARIE GUARNIERI

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