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Prosecution: Video Contradicts Alleged Drunk Driver's Account

Parsippany resident told authorities East Hanover man pulled out in front of her vehicle.

A business security camera's footage contradicts the account a Parsippany woman gave to authorities immediately after the incident, an assistant Morris County prosecutor contended in court Tuesday morning.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Kelley Lavery, footage from the camera shows Vanessa E. Brown driving southbound on Ridgedale Avenue in the left-hand lane and suddenly veering into the right lane and into Ralph Politi Jr., who was not in a vehicle. Her car continued another 88 feet when it crashed into nearby parked cars, Lavery said.

"There was no indication of turn signalling," Lavery told Judge Salem Ahto. "There was no braking."

The surveillance tape contradicts statements Brown made Saturday when, according to Lavery, she told police she thought Politi had pulled out in front of her into traffic.

The assistant prosecutor also noted that Brown has a previous DWI arrest in January 2009 and was involved in two vehicular crashes in March 2011.

Lavery said toxicology tests conducted on Brown at Morristown Memorial Hospital are still pending. He said police at the scene of the accident detected the smell of alcohol on Brown.

He added that Brown, 32, is unemployed and has no children or property.

With the video of Saturday's accident, Lavery contended that the prosecution has a "very strong case" and that the $400,000 bail with no 10 percent option is warranted.

Brown's bail was increased Monday from $100,000 when Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi , which carries up to a 30-year sentence.

Brown remains held in lieu of bail at the Morris County Correctional Facility on charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to maintain her lane, driving with unsafe tires and driving an unregistered vehicle.

The judge on Tuesday informed a mostly silent Brown that he agreed the bail amount was "appropriate" and ordered her to surrender her driver's license and passport if she's able to post bail.

The judge also said he would mark the case to be considered by a grand jury.

It was also noted that Brown does not officially have legal representation yet. The judge said Brown's family has been in contact with two attorneys, Robert Woodruff and Peter Gilbreth, of Morristown, who may work together on the case.

Peter Rubinetti, the twin brother of Politi's widow, Rosemarie, was present to observe the hearing.

He said the Politi family is doing as well as possible under the circumstances.

"Hopefully, justice will be served," he said.

yankeestyle May 09, 2012 at 01:11 PM
This woman has roots in Chatham (a large clan reared in the Borough), and this story rings of a Greek Tragedy. Our drunk driving laws need to be seriously revamped. She should have never been allowed behind the wheel after her initial drunk driving conviction. It's practically incomprehensible that someone who had absolutely NOTHING to contribute to our community would have the power to take away the life of such a wonderful man.
John smith May 09, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Yeah, thats just what we need, MORE laws. That always helps.
Dana Bennett May 09, 2012 at 02:08 PM
You will never keep a drunk from driving, ever, they will always find a way. Maybe the answer is the same as tobacco, education and lawsuits against the alcohol industry for providing a product that kills hundreds of thousands a year.
Ron Swanson May 09, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The alcohol industry is not to blame here - that's crazy. Why do we always look for a scapegoate instead of insisting that people take personal responsibility for their actions. There's only one person at fault here - the drunk driver - not the alcohol industry, not society, not our educational system. She made a choice she now needs to pay a severe price for making. With freedom comes responsibility - you don't restrict everyone's freedom (e.g. taxing to death the alcohol industry) in an effort to make the irresponsible responsible.
RealRepoman May 09, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I grew up going to Politi Auto Parts and Ralph was always there with a smile. I will miss his sense of humor and great smile. Mr. Politi was a great guy who did great things for others, I poray for him and his family. I hope they give that girl life in prison _The Real Repo Man
MadMom May 10, 2012 at 02:54 AM
How about little red stickers that our children are supposed to have on their cars for people convicted of dui or with multiple accidents on their record instead of the kids???? That way we can all do our best to keep away from them.
Kyle Michael May 10, 2012 at 03:51 AM
That is an extremely general statement. Laws are meant to support results of majority. A fluke once in a while is a disadvantage, but making everyone else suffer is ridiculous. That is why we have judges. And you do not know how much she contributed. I think this woman's sentence is more lenient than it should be, and bail is also ridiculous, but do not jump to conclusions.
Kyle Michael May 10, 2012 at 03:54 AM
I think that sticker idea is perfect. DUIs and other types of convictions should be posted on the cars some are driving. Maybe color-coded? Great idea!
Ryz2it May 10, 2012 at 11:54 AM
The sticker idea is definitely a good one, but we all know there will be someone out there will step up and surely complain that forcing someone to advertise their convictions is a violation of the person's "rights". How about Mr. Politi's rights? The right to watch his children grow? The right to enjoy life? The right to walk his daughters down the aisle? Something definitely needs to be done!!!
joe donato May 10, 2012 at 08:38 PM
This is a really sad story. She was probably texting, as well having alcohol in her system. Does it really matter, how much she jail time she gets? She destroyed so many lives she will never know. You would think after one DUI she would have got the message not to drink and drive. My prayers are with the family especially his daughters.
dan May 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
It would be great to child proof our lives. The fact is it is really impossible. The scarlet letter on the car won't prevent any accident. A simply way to reduce these things would be to have a breath ignition on the car a person drives in order to start it. This is done in other states already. Anyone who would breath for the person would face serious jail time. The car just won't start. Even though she was older we should actually have it mandatory for anyone convicted and possibly for teens. U would think after being totally stupid as a kid a person would learn the risk to their lives and others.
Andrew May 14, 2012 at 10:22 PM
The ultimate price is that she'll have to live with this the rest of her life. I hope she goes to hell.
John May 15, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I love the Politi's and have many fond memories of the whole family. She will get what she deserves ( which I hope is 30 to life). I have been praying for the family as well as the monster who has caused all this. God would have it no other way. I pray for them all.
NJ Resident11 May 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM
vanessa byrne made a choice that many make every day! im so sorry that she killed someone but she is a beautiful girl and comes from a great family. god bless the politis and the byrnes.
Kelly Philbin October 02, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Beautiful girl? Look at her mugshot! She looks like the DEVIL!! Ralph was the beautiful person, shes a killer! It's not normal to be that drunk and high on cocaine at 1:45 in the afternoon.
Angelina October 02, 2012 at 01:14 PM
lol beautiful girl? are you nuts? she took the life of a beautiful man w/a beautiful family because shes a drunk and addicted to drugs. She deserves wha she gets. I bet if that was your family member that was killed, you'd be singing a different tune.
Ktown October 02, 2012 at 04:34 PM
R.Swanson you are correct it is not the alcohol industry at fault here it is the personal responsibility of the individual making choices. Just like guns and the gun industry it is the people that make the wrong choices not the Manufactures. This is a very sad story but unfortunately it will not be the last.

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