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Hawthorne Man Found Guilty of Dragging Woman to Her Death

Hawthorne Paterson

James T. Woetzel, 48, of Hawthorne, was found guilty of being under the influence of an aerosol chemical when he struck and killed a woman with his truck.

Today following just over a day of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts on first degree aggravated manslaughter, first-degree death by auto within 1000 feet of a school, and second-degree death by auto.

Woetzel was found not guilty of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a second-degree offense.

Moetzel faces up to thirty years in New Jersey State Prison on the count of Aggravated Manslaughter, subject to the No Early Release Act, up to twenty years on the count of Death by Auto within 1000 Feet of a School, subject to the No Early Release Act, and up to ten years on the Death by Auto count, subject to the No Early Release Act.

Woetzel was remanded to the Passaic County Jail pending sentence after Judge Portelli revoked his bail of $200,000.

Woetzel’s sentence is scheduled for November 17, 2017, in front of the Honorable Joseph A. Portelli, J.S.C.

The State presented evidence at the trial that on August 10, 2014, at approximately 2:12 p.m., Woetzel drove his 2014 Dodge Ram truck through the barricades separating the Hawthorne Farmer’s Market from the street on Grand Avenue, in Hawthorne and struck Ms. Donna Wine, 58, of Hawthorne, as she was standing at a vegetable stand, trapping her under the truck.

Woetzel continued to drive for .36 miles before being flagged down by another motorist. Ms. Wine was pronounced dead at the scene after being dragged to Lafayette Avenue.

Woetzel was found to be under the influence of Difluoroethane, the volatile substance found in the compressed air cleaner.