Toni Ann Marletta, 50, of Leonardo, said “I found that out,” when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle if she was aware that Marissa Procopio had died as a result of being stuck by the car Marletta was driving on Route 36 on July 7, 2015.
In her allocution, Marletta said that she fled the scene of the accident because she had let her insurance lapse two months earlier. She admitted asking the children, her daughter and two others, who were passengers in the car not to talk about the accident until she figured out what she was going to do about it.
Marletta pleaded guilty to Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident that resulted in a Death and to two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child this morning before Superior Court Judge Ronald Reisner in Freehold. Under a plea agreement, the prosecution is recommending a sentence of 7 years for Leaving the Scene and 4 years for Endangering—to be served concurrently. Marletta will also face fines and a license suspension for motor vehicle infractions including having no insurance.
Marletta will be sentenced on December 2. She remains free on $150,000 bail with the restriction that she is not to drive.
Marletta was arrested on July 15 last year, one week after Procopio was struck and killed on Route 36 in the Leonardo section of Middletown. She was charged at the time with Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident, Failing to Report a Motor Vehicle Accident, No Insurance, Unsafe Tires and Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident. She was incarcerated in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $150,000 bail with no 10% option, as set by Judge Honora O’Brien-Kilgallen. Marletta was released from MCCI on August 4 after Judge Francis Vernoia allowed her to post 10% of her 150,000 bail.
Procopio was crossing Route 36 at the intersection of Ave D at approximately 8:25 pm when she was stuck by a light grey compact car traveling west. The car fled the scene before police arrived. Marissa was transported via Medivac helicopter to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. She succumbed to her injuries at 3:46 p.m. on July 9.
In a statement issued by her attorney, Peter O’Mara, Marletta said that Procopio crossed Route 36 against a red light and with “a gaited walk and, in the middle of crossing the highway’s westbound lanes, she began running and after running a few steps, was struck by right passenger side of vehicle.”
The statement said that state experts determined by the use of videos that Marletta was traveling at 41 mph in a 50 mph zone and was traveling through a green light at the time of the accident.
There was no evidence or testimony of drug or alcohol use during the Court proceedings. Yet the statement O’Mara distributed said that blood and toxicology test Marletta submitted to hours after accident were inconclusive.
Procopio’s mother, Danielle Procopio-Adams, told MMM that authorities told her that Marletta’s blood and toxicology results indicated that she was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol at the time she was tested, but that the tests could not prove that Marletta was under the influence at the time of the accident.
Outside the courtroom this morning, Procopio-Adams told the crowd of reporters and spectators surrounding her that “the electric chair wouldn’t be good enough, how’s that?” In response to whether she felt vindicated or would have preferred to go through a fourth court proceeding and a trial, the grieving mother relented slightly, and said, “what good would that do? She probably would have served half the time and then gone free to enjoy her family and her life. Seven years isn’t enough.”
“You found that out!? A person with morals stops the car!” Procopio-Adams shouted at Marletta in the courthouse hallway.
Procopio-Adams said she believes that Marletta fled the scene because she knew she was intoxicated, not because her insurance had lapsed.
“Toni Marletta is not a murderer, as she has been called,” the statement distributed by O’Mara said. “nor did she get away with homicide. This matter was thoroughly investigated by top experts in all fields of analysis from traffic reconstruction experts to toxicological forensic scientists. The evidence was presented by our highly regarded County Prosecutor’s Office to a 24 person Grand Jury, and these were the charges the evidence supported.”
Muriel J. Smith contributed to this article.