William Michael Simkins Jr. faces trial in the death of Jacob Broschard, 16, in a hit-and-run in Egg Harbor Township.

Anthony Smedile/July 27, 2011

MAYS LANDING — A jury was selected Tuesday in the vehicular homicide trial of an Egg Harbor Township man accused of chasing down three teens who allegedly vandalized his mother’s car and fatally striking one as they pedaled away on their bikes.

William Simkins Jr. will go on trial next Tuesday in the crash that killed Jacob Broschard, 16, at about 2:20 a.m. Sept. 6, 2010.

The teen was thrown from his bike after he was struck by the car Simkins was driving. The state will claim Simkins recklessly chased after the three boys after they allegedly vandalized his mother’s car. Simkins’ defense attorney has said Broschard veered into Simkins’ path as the man followed them after witnessing one kick off the car’s sideview mirror.

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Simkins rejected a plea deal in February that would have given him a 12-year sentence, including five years on the vehicular homicide charge. If convicted, he could face 25 years if given the maximum on each of the three charges, which include leaving the scene of a fatal crash and endangering an injured victim.

Broschard, of Egg Harbor Township, and his two friends had been drinking vodka and smoking marijuana before going out on their bikes early that morning, when they allegedly were seen vandalizing mailboxes and cars, according to what has previously been presented in court.

Simkins was working in his garage at about 2:20 a.m. when he saw someone kick the mirror and three teens ride away. A neighbor told the grand jury that Simkins hopped in the car and took off “like a bat out of hell.”

Both sides agree Broschard was struck as he went around a parked car. Defense attorney Lou Barbone has previously said Broschard — who was riding on the right side near the curb — veered into Simkins’ car.

An earlier indictment against Simkins was thrown out when Barbone successfully argued that this should have been presented to the grand jury. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton — who is representing the state — then presented the case again, and got another indictment last August.

On Tuesday, potential jurors were asked if hearing testimony that the victim and his friends were drinking alcohol underage or that they may have been engaged in vandalism would influence their decision in the case. They also were asked if they had ever been victims of vandalism.

Superior Court Judge Michael Donio said he wanted to make sure that the potential jurors would not be swayed by the “tragic loss” of a 16-year-old boy if the evidence showed that the collision was an accident.

The jury consists of 15 people — six men and nine women — who will hear the testimony, expected to last about two weeks. Then 12 will be chosen to deliberate. The remaining three will be alternates.

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