Toni Ann Marletta, the woman who struck and killed 15 year old Marissa Procopio of Atlantic Highlands on Route 36 in Leonardo on July 7, 2015 and left the scene, was sentenced to seven years in State Prison by Judge Vincent N. Falcetano Jr. in Freehold on Friday, December 15,2017.
The sentence is for the same term agreed to by Marletta in a plea agreement in which she admitted to leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in a death and endangering the welfare of minors…Procopio and three teenage girls, including Marletta’s daughter, who were in the car when Marletta killed Procopio.
Judge Ronald Reisner, now retired, imposed the seven year sentence agreed to on December 2, 2016. A two judge panel of the Superior Court’s Appellate Division vacated that sentence on October 25, 2017. The Appellate Division ordered that Marletta be sentenced again without considering Aggravating Factor #3 of the Court’s sentencing guidelines; the risk that the defendant will commit another offense. The Appellate Order further stated that the Superior Court Judge should consider Mitigating Factors 8 and 9 of the guidelines; (8)The defendant’s conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur; (9)The character and attitude of the defendant indicate that he is unlikely to commit another offense.
Marletta was expressionless throughout the proceedings yesterday. She kept her gaze fixed on Judge Falcetano, not once looking towards the gallery where Marissa’s parents, Danielle Procopio and Michael Quan, wept, or at the attorneys presenting their arguments to the Judge.
“No,” was the only word Marletta uttered in Court when asked by Judge Falcetano if she had anything to say. The Judge said he had read her allocution from her prior sentencing.
Quan stood and shouted “No” when Public Defender Sarah Surgent argued that Marletta had cooperated with Law Enforcement, was remorseful following the incident and suffers from nightmares and PTSD now. Quan’s outburst prompted the Sheriff’s Officers in attendance to stand over the gallery during the remainder of the proceedings. At the original sentencing last December, 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.
While imploring Judge Falcetano not to impose a reduced sentence, Marissa’s mother, Danielle contrasted Marletta’s behavior to her own in a similar circumstance. Danielle said that she too had been in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in a death. Danielle called 9-11. She stayed at the scene and tried to help the victim. She gave a statement to the police and was transported to the hospital by ambulance for blood work that came out clean.
In delivering Marletta’s sentence, Judge Falcetano acknowledged that he was speaking to the record and to a possible future Court considering another appeal.
Judge Falcetano said he was complying with the Appellate Division’s Order that he not consider Aggravating Factor #3,the risk that the defendant will commit another offense. He said he strongly considered Aggravating Factor 9#, the need for deterring the defendant and others from violating the law.
Regarding the Appellate Court’s Order that he consider the Mitigating Factors #8 and #9, the defendant’s conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur and the character and attitude of the defendant indicate that she is unlikely to commit another offense, the Judge said he considered these factors when reviewing the record of the case and concluded that they do not apply to Marletta. “When she gets out, there will still be cars, there will still be cocaine and there will still be marijuana,” the Judge said repeatedly.
Judge Felectano said the record indicated that Marletta had a history of abusing alcohol, cocaine and marijuana. He said that she continued to abuse marijuana after her arrest and guilty plea. He said she had used marijuana on the day of her sentencing in 2016.
The Judge said he disagreed with Public Defender Surgent’s argument that Marletta was cooperative with the police because her turned herself in at approximately 11 p.m. following the 8:48 p.m. hit and run incident. The police had already identified and located Marletta at her boyfriends trailer, his mobile home, the Judge said.
When Falectano reviewed the timeline of events of July 7, 2015, Danielle broke down in tears.
Based upon his review of the timeline, Judge Falectano said that he did not find Marletta’s claim that she was sober at the time of the incident and that she drank 1.5 liters of wine after she arrived at her boyfriend’s trailer, mobile home, credible. The Judge said he estimated that Marletta arrived at her boyfriends trailer at about 9:30 p.m. She left the scene of the 8:48 p.m incident before 9 p.m. She dropped her daughter, and the two other teenage girls who were in the car, at her Leonardo home, instructed the girls not to speak about what happened and then went to her boyfriend’s trailer/mobile home.
“I don’t think one can consume a liter and a half of water in an hour and a half,” the Judge said. “Never mind a liter and a half of wine.”
Marletta’s blood alcohol level was .08 and there was cocaine in her system when her blood was drawn after turning herself in to the Middletown Police at approximately 11 p.m. on the night of the incident.
During the original sentencing last year, Assistant Prosecutor Doyle said the Marletta was not charged with Vehicular Homicide because the expert’s analysis of blood test could not conclusively state beyond a reasonable doubt that Marletta was not impaired at the time of the incident. At the resentencing yesterday. Doyle said the the expert believed that Marletta was impaired when she killed Marissa, even though the tests did not prove it conclusively.
Danielle told MMM that she felt vindicated by both Doyle and Judge Falcetano stating that Marletta was likely impaired at the time of the incident. “Finally, someone in the legal system said it,” Danielle said. “That bitch’s behavior was like a junkie covering her ass, not that of a sane person involved in a tragic accident.”