Press

Driver charged with homicide, DUI in Wilson pedestrian crash

By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | For lehighvalleylive.com

February 09, 2016

A Wilson Borough man was charged Tuesday with homicide while DUI and drunken-driving charges in last month’s pedestrian crash in the borough that took the life of an aide as she walked home from work.

Marc Delserro, 36, of the 2200 block of Fourth Street, dressed in a pink dress shirt, tie and gray slacks, was arraigned before District Judge Richard Yetter III and sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Delserro was driving a 2001 Nissan Xterra just before 3:45 p.m. Jan. 29, headed west in the 1900 block of Northampton Street, when he struck Melody “Mel” Johnson, 53, of Easton.

Police believe Johnson, who was walking home from her job at ManorCare in the 2600 block of Northampton Street in Palmer Township, likely was on the sidewalk at the time of the collision.

When officers arrived at the scene, Johnson was lying in the street covered with a blanket and being treated by EMS for her injuries. A witness in court records said he saw Johnson fly about 5 or 6 feet into the air upon impact.

Delserro then hit a fire hydrant and crashed into the facade at Davis Optical, 20th and Northampton streets. He had an odor of alcohol on his breath when he exited the vehicle, and blood on his face and legs, court records say.

Delserro refused to take a blood test to reveal his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash, police say.

Johnson was taken to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, where she died at 8:41 p.m. Jan. 29, police said. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said she died from multiple blunt force trauma. Delserro had minor injuries and was taken to Easton Hospital in Wilson Borough.

Defense attorney Michael J. Diamondstein argued during Tuesday’s arraignment Delserro is a citizen of character who made a bad choice that day.

Delserro has no prior convictions, has lived in the Easton and Phillipsburg areas for 11 years and has been employed for 19 years with Barry-Wehmiller in Palmer Township. He has since enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous, Diamondstein said.

Diamondstein handed the judge eight letters of character support from those who know Delserro. He told the judge Delserro worked his way up from an entry-level position at his engineering company to a supervisory position.

Delserro, a homeowner, has a toddler-aged daughter and his wife gave birth to a son on Monday. That means he is the sole provider for his daughter while his wife remains at the hospital, Diamondstein said.

Diamondstein urged the judge to consider bail between 10 percent of $50,000 to 10 percent of $75,000. Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Lupackino recommended 10 percent of $75,000.

Diamondstein asked the judge to place a bail condition that Delserro could drive his wife to doctor appointments, noting she is unable to drive for six weeks due to childbirth surgery.

“This is a sobering reality,” Diamondstein said. “He started with AA immediately after and hasn’t had a drink since.”

Lupackino told the judge he was concerned with Delserro driving.

“These charges are pretty serious at this time,” he said.

After some discussion, both sides found middle ground, which would have allowed Delserro behind the wheel only for doctor’s appointments for his wife and if the appointment dates were discussed ahead of time with Northampton County Pretrial Services. The judge later denied the request.

An issue Yetter was deeply concerned about was awaiting three to four days for the results of a drug and alcohol test to be returned. The test is expected to be performed on Delserro on Wednesday morning.

Diamondstein had told the judge Delserro had the cash to pay 10 percent of $75,000 bail after the arraignment.

“I don’t think he is a risk. He complied with everything the commonwealth has asked,” Diamondstein said. “This man may never take a drink for the rest of his life. If he was a psycho, a drunk, he would be on the floor of a bar somewhere or in some other state.”

“This is a ‘me’ thing,” Yetter replied. “I don’t want the man on the streets without a drug and alcohol evaluation.”

Yetter then set bail conditions Delserro must remain drug and alcohol free, surrender his driver’s license and allowed 10 percent of the $75,000 bail following the results of the drug and alcohol evaluation if approved by pretrial services.