Authorities have filed new, more serious charges against a Bridgeton woman whose alleged lack of supervision resulted in the fatal injuring of an 8-year-old girl at a busy Vineland intersection last month.
Stephany James is now charged with aggravated manslaughter and reckless manslaughter in connection with the death of fellow Bridgeton resident Aryonna Watson, authorities said Thursday.
James, 32, of Commerce Street, was originally charged with endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution after the May 16 incident at Delsea Drive and Sherman Avenue.
Cumberland County First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro and Vineland police declined comment on why the additional charges were filed against James on Wednesday. The announcement regarding the manslaughter charges was contained in a joint statement released Thursday by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Vineland Police Department.
According to the state’s criminal code, a person is guilty of aggravated manslaughter when that person “recklessly causes death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.” A person is guilty of reckless manslaughter when that person “recklessly causes the death of another person.”
James is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges before Superior Court Judge Cristen D’Arrigo at 9 a.m. today at the Cumberland County courthouse in Bridgeton. Authorities said information about why the new charges were filed might be released during those proceedings.
James was released from the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton after posting the $25,000 bail set on the charges of endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution. James is now back in the jail, where she is being detained on $200,000 bail.
The intersection of Delsea Drive, also known as Route 47, and Sherman Avenue is one of the busiest in Cumberland County. It is located in a commercial district and near Cumberland County College and the county’s only hospital.
Vineland police said after the accident that Aryonna was in James’ care when the child crossed into the intersection.
Aryonna was struck by a car driven by Robert H. Zajac, 45, of Swedesboro, Gloucester County. Police said Zajac saw Aryonna after the vehicle in front of him swerved, and that Zajac could not stop his vehicle in time to prevent hitting her.
No charges were filed against Zajac.
Aryonna was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland after the collision. She was then transferred to the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., where she died three days later.
While authorities list Watson as being a Bridgeton resident, she was a second-grade honors student at the Fairfield Township School. Fairfield Township borders Bridgeton, and some Fairfield properties have a Bridgeton postal address. The child’s mother is Stephanie Watson, of Bridgeton.
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