Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camille Killer Gets Off

As reported by Eugene Sonn, written by Jen Benepe
The driver that hit and killed Camille Savoy last November has been cleared of careless driving charges. 

The decision by Judge Robert Ritter of the Alpine, NJ municipal court, once again proves that there are two courts of justice in the United States: one for regular people, and one for cyclists.

Wha S. Kim, 72, the driver with an alleged string of careless driving accidents behind her (as reported by an Alpine police officer who did not want to be identified for this article,) was set free once again, this time after striking 
and killing Savoy from behind.

Amazingly, a man whose case was heard immediately before Kim's in the same court who had been caught by police tailgating the car in front of him was found guilty of careless driving. But Kim, Camille-Killer, was not.

Even the offense of careless driving is merely a slap in the hand, and bears no criminal intent or finding, though it affects your driving record. 

Eugene Sonn, reporter for WBGO 88.3 FM Newark, who has written a larger piece on the increase in cyclist deaths in New Jersey, was at the hearing held June 12. 

The Alpine, NJ prosecutor Sam Braverman had three witnesses speak, including the first officer who responded, Officer A. White, Michael Passow, the driver who was following Kim on Rte. 9W, and Sgt. Robert Ryan, a special investigator from the Rivervale Police Dept. who works on the Accident Investigation Squad for the Alpine area.

Sgt. Ryan who is a forensic expert in bicycle-motor vehicle accidents testified that he measured Kim's auto tracks as well as those of Savoy's bike wheels and based on his findings, Kim had traveled an incredible one foot six inches over the fog lane into the lane where Savoy was riding. 

Her action caused her to hit Savoy from behind sending him flying over the top of her SUV,damaging his helmeted head beyond repair, and splintering his bike into two parts. Savoy died two weeks later. 

Passow--the one witness-- said he had been driving behind Kim for about one mile, and that he could not actually see her car at the point of contact with Savoy from his vantage point. 

Kim's only testimony was the first documented words she told reporting officers at the scene, that Savoy swerved in front of her, a claim that was not substantiated by Passow's testimony. At the memorial held for Savoy last year on Dec. 7, Savoy's friends said publicly that Savoy was a very careful rider, and for that reason, did not even go out on his bike when there was even a drop of rain. Savoy had had some 30 years of experience riding his bike, they said.

But Judge Ritter, instead of going with Sgt. Ryan's testimony, said that he was ruling on the basis that Passow's testimony did not contradict Kim's, and he let her off.

Sonn, who has followed the case, said that Kim did not testify at the hearing and that "both the investigator and the prosecutor both very much thought this was a case of careless driving," with dry conditions, not a lot of traffic, and in the course of passing Savoy, did not give him enough room.

There was no physical evidence that the cyclist might have swerved, said Braverman.

As a case in point, the clothing in the picture (left) taken the day of Savoy's accident, Savoy's jersey that was cut off his body by paramedics while they tried to treat him on the scene of the accident, is all quite visibly right--not left--of the white line.

Previously we reported that Kim was supposed to be re-tested for her license. But when we checked with the Bergen County Prosecutor's office they said the new test had been requested by the Alpine Police Dept. We called them, and they said the Bergen County prosecutor's office had requested the re-testing, and neither party knew if it had been done.


Anonymous said...

How do we appeal this with a higher court?

Rich said...

Unless Savoy's family sues in civil court, it's done.

Anonymous said...

If the driver, Wha S. Kim, was not careless--and I believe her license had been previously suspended--then her driving must have been deemed careful, deliberate, and responsible by Judge Robert Ritter.

She claimed to a police officer at the scene, before she fell silent on the matter evermore including in court, Camille swerved in front of her. Photo evidence suggests he was was riding IN the shoulder; therefore the SUV was in the shoulder.

But Judge Robert Ritter obviously felt the driver had no motive to lie. Yeah, right: of course she would have admitted driving in the shoulder and hitting the cyclist if she had.

Here's an undoubtedly irrelevant fact about the village that hires Judge Robert Ritter as its town judge: "Alpine, NJ is tied with Miami Beach, FL ranking number one in the "Most Expensive Zip Codes" with a median home sale price at just below 3.5 million dollars." Source: http://www.nj-court-info.com/getCourt.php?id=46

Consistent with that, read about the judge's areas of practice in his own law firm at: http://www.lawyers.com/New-Jersey/Hackensack/Robert-L.-Ritter-1090969-a.html Any suggestion there of experience or interest related to the Savoy killing? None.

Ah, but what you fail to realize is Camille, hearing the car behind him, decided to swerve into the path of the car.

Conclusion: Judge Robert Ritter represents the law. His mindless, thoughtless, conclusion-driven reasoning incites disrespect, even contempt for the law.

Jen Benepe said...

Unfortunately there is no appeal in this court. The family is suing in civil court, but I have often heard that a bad criminal outcome does not help a civil suit.

As to RR's comment (no. 3 above): interesting comment on Ritter: do you mean his corporate law practice shows that he has no experience in this part of the law? Or that he doesn't want to hurt his business by delivering a negative sentence on a woman whose husband was the residing priest in the local church (until he was thrown out of the church--for reasons that have been sealed)? The Kim family does have long standing ties in Alpine. Not sure what their relationship is to Judge Ritter. What is clear, Ritter ruled differently on two cases before him, delivering a harsher ruling to a man who was tailgating than he gave to a woman who killed Savoy.

Anonymous said...

There is usually an appeals process. But with the defendant not able to appeal, who might be able to make one? The next of Kin?

jeep-suv-and-parts said...
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