MAYS LANDING — William Simkins Jr. was acquitted Wednesday of vehicular homicide in the crash that killed an Egg Habor Township teen in 2010. But a guilty verdict for leaving the scene of a fatal accident was enough to send him to jail immediately.
“I need to stand,” Mimi Broschard cried as she made sure she had a clear view of the man who killed her 16-year-old son being handcuffed and led out of court.
Superior Court Judge Michael Donio revoked Simkins’ bail at the request of acting First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, who pointed out the man faces prison time when he is sentenced Oct. 12. He faces a likely sentence of five to 10 years in prison for the second-degree crime.
Simkins, 33, of Egg Harbor Township, was accused of chasing down three teens at about 2 a.m. Sept. 6, 2010, after one kicked the mirror of his mother’s parked car. Jacob Broschard, 16, was struck and killed as he biked down Jerome Avenue in the township.
Simkins fled the scene, turning himself in to police more than two hours later.
Defense attorney Lou Barbone argued there was no evidence Simkins chased the teens and that the man was simply heading to Cumberland Farms when Broschard veered into his path.
The jurors took less than four hours to reach their verdict.
“Not guilty,” the foreman said on the vehicular homicide charge.
Several of the family and friends who had filled one side of the courtroom throughout the trial gasped when they heard those words, some crying silently.
After the jury was dismissed, Mimi Broschard began to scream.
“I can’t move. I don’t want to move,” she said, dissolving into loud sobs. “Damn it.”
The acquittal on the more severe charge means Simkins will not be subject to the No Early Release Act, which requires 85 percent of a term be served before parole.
The five to 10 years in prison that Simkins faces was the deal the defense originally offered the state, Barbone said outside the courtroom.
“He would have pled guilty to leaving the scene and been sentenced at the judge’s discretion,” Barbone said.
But the prosecution said Simkins was a man enraged after seeing teens vandalize his mother’s car, and was set on punishing the boys when he sped down the street toward the teens.
“The state was hell-bent on this chase scenario,” he said.
Earlier in the day, jurors asked to rehear testimony by Simkins’ girlfriend, Misty Henderson, along with a brief tape in which Simkins talks to a dispatcher when he went to the township police station about two hours after the crash.
“I was in an accident earlier, and I’m here to turn myself in,” Simkins is heard saying.
When asked where, he replies: “Off Robert Best Road near Jerome Avenue.”
Ruberton told the jury in her closing Tuesday that the man on the tape doesn’t sound confused, as he allegedly was about the crash.
This is the second acquittal in an Atlantic County vehicular homicide case in the past two months. In July, a jury cleared a Galloway Township man who was legally drunk when he fatally struck a bicycling teen in 2009.
Almon Taylor Jr., 43, was sentenced to 150 days in jail for being drunk and reckless when he hit Cody Sanchez, 13, while driving his son to football practice at about 6:30 p.m. July 28, 2009. Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor told Taylor it was the most time he could give him by law.
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