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 — The Egg Harbor Township man convicted of leaving the scene of a hit-and-run that killed a teenager will stay in jail — for now.

William Simkins, 33, is hoping for a new trial now that a juror has been accused of reading the Press of Atlantic City's coverage of the case during the trial.

Simkins was accused of hopping in his mother's car early Sept. 6, 2010, and chasing after three teens on bikes after one of them kicked the car's sideview mirror.

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Jacob Broschard, 16, was fatally struck.

Simkins was acquitted of vehicular homicide, but found guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, which carries five to 10 years in prison.

In court Oct. 11, juror Peter Kearney testified that he never discussed the case with anyone, but invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked if he read The Press' online articles during the trial.

Superior Court Judge Michael Donio was expected to rule Monday on whether Kearney was in contempt and whether that would constitute a new trial for Simkins.

Instead, Donio is holding over the case while he awaits a decision from the state Attorney General's Office on whether Kearney can be granted limited immunity so that he could testify further without worry that he could incriminate himself. That decision is expected by the end of the week.

Because of the delay, defense attorney Lou Barbone asked that Simkins be freed until that time.

But acting First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton successfully argued that —- currently — the jury's verdict stands, which means Simkins is convicted and not entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Donio said that, if a decision is not reached by the end of the week, he could revisit the issue next week.

The contempt case began when Kearney's former co-worker, Brian Sessa, went to Barbone saying the juror had spoken about the case with co-workers and looked up stories online.

But two of Kearney's other co-workers — one of whom is his girlfriend — testified that he only told them he had been picked for jury duty, but nothing about the case.

A court date of Oct. 30 has been set to make sure the case keeps moving. Because Simkins was acquitted of vehicular homicide, a possible new trial would not include that charge.

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