By: James O’Malley, Bucks County Courier Times
September 19, 2018
Jaclyn Jones was under the influence of prescription medication when she killed a man in a DUI crash in Bedminster, say prosecutors.
A repeat impaired driver from Nockamixon will spend up to two decades in state prison for a head-on DUI crash that killed 21-year-old Christopher Marinelli and severely injured his girlfriend in Bedminster.
“You will never know the pain that I suffer through daily. I can hear Chris’s last words running through my mind all the time,” said Gaby Otero, the passenger in the car struck last year by the sports utility vehicle driven by Jaclyn Jones. “The pain in my body reminds me what happened, and how the person I loved more than anything was torn from my hands.”
Jones, 31, of Foeller Lane, was sentenced Tuesday in Bucks County Court to serve five and a half to 20 years behind bars for the Aug. 30, 2017, crash on Route 611.
Judge Gary B. Gilman also ordered that when paroled she complete 200 hours of community service for a drunk-driving prevention group. In addition, Jones must make $11,071.48 restitution and pay some $3,000 in fines and additional court costs.
The woman pleaded guilty in May to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related counts, admitting she was under the influence of powerful prescription medications at the time of the crash, including hydrocodone and clonazepam prescribed to treat Lyme Disease.
She also was on parole from her second DUI, and was prohibited from driving except to work or school. Prosecutors said a receipt found in her car showed she had been shopping at the Willow Grove Mall just an hour prior to the 9 p.m. collision.
The crash killed Marinelli, of Ottsville, on impact, authorities said, while causing extensive injuries to Otero.
“The grief has punched me in the gut. It has completely blindsided me,” said Marinelli’s mother Donna Marinelli. “I’m now trying desperately to make friends with sadness, because sadness isn’t going anywhere.”
Family members and friends described the Marinelli, a graduate of Central Bucks East High School who worked from Comcast Business in Horsham, in letters as responsible, thoughtful and motivated with a bright future.
The arrest of Jones last year was her third driving under influence violation in less than five years. Both cases, one for alcohol and the second drug-related, required her to complete driving safety courses during which defendants are instructed on the impairing effects of many prescription medications, Deputy District Attorney Robert James noted.
“She caused this because she’s selfish, she’s narcissistic, she’s a pill-seeker and she doesn’t get it,” James said.
Jones originally faced a count of third-degree murder, but the count was dropped when she agreed to plead guilty.
Gilman pointed to seven additional traffic violations for speeding and reckless driving, as evidence of “immaturity,” “disrespect for the law” and disregard for others.
“These violations were willful, they were knowing, they were deliberate and they were selfish,” he said.
Defense attorney Michael Diamondstein, arguing for leniency, highlighted his client’s health struggles and suggested the fact she was under the influence of prescribed medication rather than illegal drugs or alcohol was mitigating, but not an excuse.
Speaking in court, Jones insisted she was sorry.
“I have nightmares about that day. It feels like I am in a prison mentally and emotionally,” she said.
But James, who leads the county’s homicide by vehicle prosecutions, called the statements in court “more of the same.”
“She’s going to get on the road again one day,” he told Gilman. “That’s a scary thought.”