Freehold- Toni Ann Marletta, the 51 year old Leonarado woman who admitted to the hit and run death of Marissa Procopio, 15, of Atlantic Highlands, was sentenced to seven years in State Prison today by Judge Ronald Reisner in Monmouth County Superior Court. The seven year sentence for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that resulted in a death runs concurrent to her four year sentence for Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
Marletta was taken into custody at the conclusion of her sentencing hearing.
Michael Quan, Marissa’s father, was shaking as he prepared to make his statement to Judge Reisner. Quan started to speak and then suddenly waved his arms down in disgust and stormed out of the courtroom, looking over his shoulder at Marletta who was standing in the jury box, before slamming the courtroom door. Loud wailing could be heard in the courtroom seconds after the door closed behind Quan.
Danielle Procopio-Adams, Marissa’s mother, jumped from her seat at the prosecutor’s table and shouted “You don’t get to talk to me,” as she moved to sit with family members and friends in the gallery while Marletta read her prepared apology. Assistant Prosectuor Meghan Doyle interrupted Marletta to ask that Judge Reisner instruct her to address her remarks to the Court, and not to Procopio-Adams. Reisner agreed.
Doyle said that Marletta’s pre-sentencing report “shows one thing. This woman cares about herself. She cared about what was going to happen to her. She didn’t care about her daughter. She didn’t care about her daughter’s friends who were in that car. She certainly and most importantly did not care about the little girl that she left on the side of the road.”
Doyle said that the case would not have been solved if Marletta’s daughter and her two friends who were passengers in the car that struck and killed Marissa had not told the truth to the Middletown Police Officers who were investigating the accident. Marletta had asked the girls, who were 16 at the time of the incident, to lie for her.
Marletta claimed in her pre-sentencing report that she stopped her car after striking Marissa to make sure that others were attending to her. Doyle said there was no evidence to support that claim.
Doyle said that Marletta tested positive for alcohol and cocaine when she arrived at the Middletown Police Department several hours after the incident, but that because she fled the seen, the prosecution could not prove that she was under the influence at the time of the incident. By fleeing the seen, Marletta deprived Procopio-Adams and Quan of knowing whether Marissa’s death was an accident or a more serious crime, Doyle said.
Marletta’s defense attorney, Peter O’Mara of Red Bank, pleaded with Judge Reisner to sentence his client to only five years. O’Mara indicated that defenses occurred to him during the pre-sentencing phase and that he had regrets about accepting the plea deal offer by the prosecution.
While imposing the sentence, Judge Reisner said the the legislature got it right when it determined that jail was mandatory for leaving the scene of an accident that results in a death. He said that Marletta’s lies to the police and cocaine use were aggravating factors in her case.
When Reisner mentioned the cocaine use, Marletta shook her head as if to deny it. She admitted to using alcohol and taking Xanax before going to the Middletown Police Department hours after the incident.
Marletta was arrested on July 15 last year, one week after Marissa 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.
Marissa 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.