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Vernon Man Sentenced for Fatal Crash in Butler

Vernon Township Butler

A Vernon man was sentenced to 270 days in jail in addition to probation and community service Friday for crimes related to a 2016 fatal motor vehicle crash in Butler in a case brought by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp.

The sentence of defendant Timothy J. Runo, 21, was imposed by Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor in Morristown. In addition to jail time, Runo will be on probation for four years, must perform 150 hours of community service and pay restitution in an amount yet to be determined to the victims.

Additionally, his driver’s license was suspended for one year upon his release from jail.

The charges stem from a motor vehicle crash that occurred on Route 23 eastbound at approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 29, 2016. Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the defendant was driving his vehicle with two other passengers at the time of the crash. The crash resulted in injuries to all three of the occupants.

One of the passengers sustained serious bodily injury. The other passenger sustained serious bodily injuries that ultimately resulted in his death on August 9, 2016. The investigation revealed that Runo had been operating his vehicle recklessly by driving at an excessive speed.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn, who represented the state, stressed during sentencing the importance of deterring individuals who drive too fast. Noting widespread concern about those who talk on the phone or text while driving, Schellhorn said, “We have almost forgotten that speed kills.”

The defendant entered guilty pleas in February to two counts of assault by auto, which are crimes of the fourth degree.

He was taken into custody at the time of the plea and remanded to jail pending sentence.