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The Jersey Journal reported that a Linden man charged in connection with a hit-and-run crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed off-duty New York City police officer pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance Wednesday.  The Jersey Journal reported that

William Espinal-Mejia, 35, faces one count of second-degree leaving the scene of the Feb. 28 fatal accident on the Turnpike near Newark Liberty International Airport in Elizabeth. Vincent Harrison, 25, was struck and fatally injured.

Espinal-Mejia’s attorney, Victor Rotolo, said he planned to post a $100,000 bail bond for his client. As a condition of the bail, Judge Brenda Coppola Cuba required Espinal-Mejia to surrender his passport.

Cuba read the charge to Espinal-Mejia, who listened to a Spanish interpreter as his wife sat in the front row of the courtroom.

Rotolo told the judge that after Espinal-Mejia’s car hit Harrison, the defendant stopped and got out of his car to help the victim. However, Rotolo said his client left when he saw an approaching tractor-trailer that started to jack-knife.

“It was just a very, very dangerous situation,” Rotolo said. “He had his wife and cousin in the car, and he made the decision to leave.”

Rotolo said his client is not a flight risk, noting that Espinal-Mejia came to the United States in 2000 and is now a citizen, and his wife immigrated before 2000 and is also a citizen. Rotolo did not say from which country or countries the couple immigrated.

The attorney said Espinal-Mejia is employed, that his wife works for Bloomberg in New York, and that the couple has an 11-year-old son and own a home.

“They have no place that they want to be, other than America, as evidenced by the fact that they’re both citizens,” Rotolo said.

He said the family will lose their home if Espinal-Mejia is not working.

Union County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Rosenthal said witnesses told investigators that on the night of the crash, a white sedan hit the victim and left the scene. There is also video showing Espinal-Mejia’s vehicle leaving, Rosenthal said.

“He didn’t pull over somewhere further down and make a phone call,” Rosenthal said. “He didn’t get off the highway and make a phone call. He didn’t drive to a police station. He was not going to come forward with this.”

Rosenthal said when police went to Espinal-Mejia’s house, the defendant admitted knowing he had hit someone. The damage to Espinal-Mejia’s car matches debris left at the scene, and there are pieces of clothing stuck to the front of that car, the prosecutor said.

“The chance of conviction here is strong,” he said.

Rotolo said his client turned himself into police after learning he faced a criminal charge.

The judge noted that Espinal-Mejia has no criminal history in the United States, but she said he posed a flight risk because he left the scene of a fatal accident.

After the hearing, Rotolo said both he and Espinal-Mejia’s wife would not comment on the case.

Espinal-Mejia’s next court appearance is slated for April 6 before Superior Court Judge William Daniel.

Harrison was hit by a 2008 Infiniti around 3 a.m. near milepost 102 in Elizabeth after his 2013 Chevy Cruze collided with a 2003 Ford Escape and he exited his car, state police said.

Authorities said Harrison, of Valley Stream, N.Y., was traveling in the Turnpike’s southbound outer lanes when his car collided with the Escape, which was in the right lane. They said Harrison was switching into the right lane when the accident occurred.

Harrison’s car ended up in the right shoulder, while the Ford was in the right and right-center lanes, state police said. They said Harrison got out of his car and was near the Ford when the Infiniti came up and hit Harrison, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:28 a.m.

Investigators believe Harrison exchanged words with the Ford’s driver and had his weapon drawn right before the Infiniti struck him, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes.

They said the Infiniti stopped at the scene briefly but left before officials arrived.

Authorities said the incident remains under investigation.  Charged fatal hit and run Turnpike



If you or any of your loved ones have been injured in a Hit-and-Run crash, call us at


When you contact our office, we will immediately set up a free, confidential appointment where you will meet an attorney who will listen to you and evaluate your case.  We have conveniently located offices in Perth AmboyNew BrunswickJersey CityRoselle and East Orange. We understand traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and other medical problems caused by accidents and the problems that they can cause in your daily life.  Our law firm will always work to make sure you are compensated fairly.

Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a shopper in a store, or the occupant of train, or car, motorcycle, boat or any motor vehicle, or have been hurt at an amusement park or at your workplace, bitten by a dog or injured in a fall down accident, you should immediately call one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at

 (732) 442-5900, 21-COURTLAW (212) 687-8529, during regular business hours or 1-800-RITELAW (800-748-3529) toll free.  You can even call either number on weekends or after regular business hours. We have offices in MiddlesexUnionEssex and Hudson counties.  call us .


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