CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Now that State Trooper Robert Higbee has been found not guilty of vehicular homicide in the deaths of two Upper Township sisters, his union and his attorney are working to get him back on the job.
Higbee, 37, was suspended without pay Feb. 27, 2007, the day he was indicted on two counts of vehicular homicide in the Sept. 27, 2006, deaths of Christina and Jacqueline Becker. Higbee crashed his patrol car into the Beckers’ minivan as he attempted to stop a speeder on Stagecoach Road in Marmora.
A jury Monday found him not guilty of both counts, but the verdict does not mean Higbee automatically returns to work.
Capt. Gerald Lewis, director of communications for the State Police, said Tuesday he could not provide a time frame on when Higbee’s status with the State Police would be resolved.
“There are several internal and administrative matters that have to be settled,” Lewis said.
Higbee’s defense attorney, D. William Subin, said Tuesday he will continue to represent Higbee, through the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, in that process.
“I’m hopeful we can get Rob his position as a state trooper back,” Subin said.
Higbee told reporters Monday, after the verdict was read, that he wanted to return to work.
David Jones, president of the fraternal association, said the process will begin with an informal meeting with State Police officials and that would be followed by an internal investigation.
Jones said it was likely that investigation would determine Higbee was involved in a preventable troop car accident and then Higbee would be subject to a number of possible penalties and sanctions.
“Then after fulfilling that obligation we expect to get him back to work,” Jones said.
In addition, Higbee would have to be re-certified on a number of duty-related areas, such as weapons proficiency and other training.
But like Lewis, Jones said he did not know how long the process might take. “Anything right now would be speculation,” Jones said.
Subin said the superintendent of the State Police has great latitude in imposing any penalties, and he expected the verdict, along with other factors such as the condition of the intersection where the crash took place, would be considered.
Subin has long argued the intersection’s configuration played a large role in the crash.
Since the collision, the stop sign there has been replaced with a much larger sign and a flashing red and orange light has been installed.
That information was not introduced at trial because Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten found there was no expert testimony to establish that the intersection was deficient prior to Sept. 27, 2006.
On Friday, Batten also will decide what to do with the remaining motor vehicles summonses issued to Higbee for careless driving and failure to stop or yield.
Subin said he had not calculated how much Higbee was owed in back pay.
He said his client, meanwhile, was spending the day after the trial with his family.
“He is spending as much time with his family in private as he can,” Subin said.