MAYS LANDING — Jurors were presented two different pictures of William Simkins Jr. during closing arguments Tuesday in his vehicular homicide trial.
Whether Simkins, 33, of Egg Harbor Township, was an angry man set on punishing three teens for vandalism or a hard worker simply heading out for coffee and cigarettes as the kids rode bicycles down the street will be up to the jury when they continue deliberations today.
Simkins wanted revenge when he ran to his car around 2 a.m. Sept. 6, 2010, and chased down three teens, acting First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton told the jurors. After fatally striking Jacob Broschard, 16, he fled.
“He wasn’t setting out to kill them,” Ruberton said. “But he was going to punish them. He was going to do something.”
All he was going to do was get coffee and cigarettes at nearby Cumberland Farms when the teen veered into his path, defense attorney Lou Barbone said.
“It’s a coincidence that he decides just at this time he’s going for coffee and cigarettes?” Ruberton asked, dismissing the defense’s claims. “It’s not a coincidence, it’s a pursuit.”
Simkins was inside the garage doing work when Ryan Blevin, then 16, rode by and kicked the side-view mirror of his mother’s car. The frame stayed, but the glass fell out. When Brian Wagner, then 14, saw the man standing there, he told his friends to run, he testified.
“This whole concept is inside the minds of Brian and Ryan,” Barbone told the jury. “That started this whole pursuit theory.”
Neighbors testified about hearing the bang and then the car accelerate, but no one mentioned hearing Simkins say anything.
“In my world of Italian heritage, you definitely say something,” Barbone said.
“Bill Simkins never talks, he never hollers, he never curses,” he said of a man allegedly pushed over the edge with anger. “How does that translate? How does that make any sense?”
He also said the accident investigators’ findings that Simkins was going 45 to 55 mph doesn’t make sense because Simkins didn’t catch up to the bikes until after they turned the corner from Royal. A car, he said, would have no problem catching the bikes if that was the intent.
But Ruberton pointed out that there are only three houses between where the car was parked and where the street ends.
“You don’t hop in a car and suddenly go 45 to 55 miles per hour,” she said.
Simkins still had to get in the car and start it up and then accelerate, Ruberton said.
Jurors were given instructions on the charges and then deliberated about 40 minutes Tuesday before going home for the day.
Simkins faced three charges, but was cleared of one before the jurors entered the courtroom Tuesday.
Because unchallenged testimony showed Broschard died on impact, a charge of endangering a victim was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Michael Donio.
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