Ex-Linden police officer goes on trial in double-fatal Staten Island DWI case

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NJ Burkett reports on the trial of a former New Jersey police officer. (Left: AP Photo/Julio Cortez; Right: AP Photo/Linden N.J. Police Department)

Opening arguments began Monday in the trial of a former New Jersey police officer accused in a drunken wrong-way crash that killed a fellow officer and another man.

Authorities say then-Linden Officer Pedro Abad and his friends were coming home from a strip club on Staten Island when he veered onto the other side of the West Shore Expressway and hit an oncoming truck in 2015.

The crash claimed the lives of Linden Officer Frank Viggiano and Linden resident Joseph Rodriguez. Another officer was seriously injured.

Prosecutors on Monday portrayed Abad as reckless and irresponsible.

"This case is about choices," Assistant District Attorney Frank Prospero said. "It's all about choices."

Prospero told the jury in his opening statement that Abad was intoxicated and driving 73 miles per hour when he plowed head-on into the tractor trailer.

"There were no skid marks," he said. "The defendant never used his brakes until he ran into the tractor trailer."

Abad's blood alcohol level was reported to be .24, three times the legal limit.

Abad rejected a plea bargain and is determined to win the case, according to his lawyer, Mario Gallucci.

"They will never be able to prove intoxication," he told the jury.

Gallucci claims the blood evidence was "mishandled" and that evidence collection was botched because first responders, appropriately, were "more concerned with saving lives."

The survivor, Patrik Kudlac, is expected to testify for the prosecution in the case.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

If convicted, Abad faces up to 25 years in prison.

Related Topics:
newsaccidentcrashwrong wayofficer chargedLinden
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