A Camden man was arrested and charged Monday for causing the death of a 26-year-old Howell woman in Belmar while recklessly operating a vehicle and under the influence of alcohol early on Easter Sunday morning, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Edwin Martinez, 22, of 1028 North 34th St. in Camden, is charged with first degree Vehicular Homicide within 1000 feet of a school zone; third degree Causing Death While Operating a Motor Vehicle while having a Suspended Driver’s License; and one count of Criminal Mischief, a disorderly person’s offense.
Martinez surrendered to police Monday afternoon and was lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $300,500 bail with no 10 percent option, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen, J.S.C.
The incident originated outside of Connolly Station restaurant and tavern located on Main Street in Belmar in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014. After the bar closed, an altercation took place between Martinez and two other bar patrons culminating with Martinez smashing the windshield of another vehicle. He then entered and drove his motor vehicle at a high rate of speed, headed down Eighth Avenue towards Route 35, with the victim as a passenger.
As Martinez crossed through the intersection, against a red light signal, he collided with a motor vehicle occupied by two individuals. Neither of the two individuals sustained any injuries. The vehicle, operated by Martinez, then continued through the intersection and crashed into the parking lot of the Belmar Marina. During this crash, his 26-year-old female passenger was ejected from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she died.
A joint investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Belmar Police Department revealed Martinez was operating the motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Anyone with additional information about this case is urged to call Detective Eric Kerecman, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, at 1-800-533-7443 or Belmar Police Sgt. Mark Walsifer at 732-681-1700.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
If convicted of first degree Vehicular Homicide within 1000 feet of a School zone, Martinez faces a sentence of twenty years in a state prison, subject to the provisions of the "No Early Release Act" (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.
If convicted of third degree Causing Death While Operating a Motor Vehicle while having a suspended driver’s license, Martinez faces five years in a state prison.
The disorderly person offense of Criminal Mischief carries it a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas C. Huth, Director of the Office’s Major Crimes Bureau. Martinez is represented by John Klamo, Esq. of Cherry Hill.