FREEHOLD – A Marlboro man pleaded guilty Monday to Vehicular Homicide and Driving While Intoxicated charges connected to the December 2014 fatal motor vehicle crash that took the life of a 32-year-old Old Bridge man, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Robert A. Pennington, 51, of Marlboro, pleaded guilty before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., P.J.Cr., to second degree Death by Auto and a motor vehicle summons for Driving While Intoxicated. In pleading guilty, Pennington admitted that, on Dec. 5, 2014, he consumed more than seven beers before getting behind the wheel of his 2008 Chrysler Town and County minivan, driving the vehicle recklessly on Route 34 in Holmdel, and striking another vehicle operated by the victim, Siva Kovvuri.
As part of the negotiated plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Pennington be sentenced to a term of seven years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring he must serve 85 percent of any sentence imposed prior to becoming eligible for parole. Pennington is scheduled to return for sentencing before Judge Mellaci on April 1, 2016.
The fatal collision occurred shortly before midnight on Dec. 5, 2014, on Route 34 in Holmdel near the intersection of East Lawn Drive. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART) and the Holmdel Township Police Department revealed that Pennington was the sole occupant and driver of a minivan traveling southbound on Rt. 34. The second vehicle, a 2008 Hyundai Accent operated by Siva Kovvuri, 32, of the Parlin section of Old Bridge Township, was traveling north on Rt. 34. As Pennington approached a slight curve in the road, he failed to properly negotiate the bend and continued straight, crossing over the double yellow line and into the opposing lane of traffic striking the Hyundai head on. Kovvuri, who was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, sustained significant traumatic injuries to his head, torso and extremities and was pronounced dead at the scene. Pennington was transported to Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel as a precaution and later released without injuries.
The investigation further revealed that Pennington spent several hours leading up to the fatal collision consuming beer at Fantasies, a gentleman’s club in Keyport. After the crash, a blood sample taken revealed that Pennington had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .258 percent, over three times the legal limit in New Jersey.
Pennington remains free on bail pending sentence, after posting bail in the amount of $100,000 with no 10 percent option following his arrest in December 2014.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Tara Wilson and Nicole Wallace.
Pennington is represented by Charles F. Clark, Jr., Esq. of Freehold.
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