An Egg Harbor Township man was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for leaving the scene of a fatal accident, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced Tuesday.
William Simkins, 33, received a seven and a half-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of a fatal accident that claimed the life of 16-year-old Jacob Broschard, also of Egg Harbor Township, in 2010.
On September 6, 2010, Simkins struck Broschard with his motor vehicle, while the teen was riding his bicycle with two other teens on Jerome Avenue in Egg Harbor Township. After striking the boy, Simkins continued to drive away without stopping to check on the victim or render aid.
Two hours after the accident, Simkins turned himself in at the Egg Harbor Township police station. He was arrested and charged with motor vehicle violations including reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident. Simkins was later indicted for second-degree vehicular homicide, second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident and third-degree endangering an injured victim. On September 12, 2012, at the conclusion of a trial, the jury found Simkins guilty of second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Simkins was acquitted of the vehicular homicide charge and Superior Court Judge Michael Donio previously dismissed the endangering an injured victim charge.
At sentencing Tuesday, Defense Attorney Lou Barbone filed a motion for a downgraded sentence, citing Simkins' willingness to cooperate and the hardship Simkins' family would face during his incarceration. Barbone asked the court to sentence Simkins for a third-degree crime, which only carries a three to five-year sentence instead of the five to 10-year sentence he faced for the second-degree crime.
Acting First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton opposed the motion, arguing that Simkins still had not accepted responsibly for chasing the victim down. Ruberton also stated that Simkins' prior criminal record, which included nine arrests, a multitude of vehicular offenses and a domestic violence incident, would indicate that he is at risk to re-offend. Many of Broschard's friends and family members attended the sentencing wearing T-shirts with his picture on them. The victim's mother, father and two sisters asked the court for justice, stating that the crash was not an accident and that while Simkins would eventually get to return home – nothing can change the fact that their loved one never will.
In conclusion, Judge Donio denied the defense's motion for a downgraded sentence; sentencing Simkins to seven years and six months flat-time in New Jersey State Prison. In addition, Simkins will also receive a two-year suspension of his driver's license, which will commence after he is released from prison.