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Drunk Driving Fatality

Michael Homentosky, whose drunken driving in 1995 killed a Randolph mother of three and led to stricter driving laws, will be released on parole in March after serving 15 years in state prison, authorities said.

Parole board members on Tuesday approved Homentosky, now 50, for release from East Jersey State Prison on March 2 and he will be supervised on parole until at least August 2011, said Neal Buccino, spokesman for the state Parole Board.

Lisa Senters, the younger sister of victim Teresa G. Wright, said she forgave Homentosky almost from the start and does not object to his release.

“My sister was a very strong Christian, as am I, and I believe that forgiveness is really important for everyone,” said Senters, of Atlanta. “I don’t feel he went out that day with a mission to hurt anyone and I pray that he can change his life and do really great things.”

On Feb. 22, 1995, Homentosky, then 36, borrowed a Jeep from his employer at a nail salon and visited his mother’s gravesite, where he admittedly held “a pity party” for himself while guzzling vodka. He had the Jeep moving at more than 80 mph when he ran a red light and slammed into Wright’s Jeep Cherokee at Dover-Chester Road in Randolph.

His blood-alcohol level was .21 percent or more than twice the .10 percent level a motorist was considered drunk at that time. The legal level has since been lowered to .08 percent. While on parole, he will not be permitted to drink any alcohol but it was unclear whether he could try to obtain a driver’s license.

Teresa Wright, a 39-year-old school nurse and Randolph mother, had her three children in the Cherokee. They were pulled to safety but Wright suffered traumatic brain injuries and was disconnected from life support two days later.

Because of the extreme recklessness, he had shown, Homentosky was charged with the first-degree crime of aggravated manslaughter, for which a Morris County jury convicted him in 1996. He was sentenced on April 8, 1996, to 30 years in prison, with 15 years before parole consideration. Between the time he spent in the Morris County jail and state prison, he has fulfilled the minimum term of 15 years.

“Michael has told me that not a day has gone by that he has not expressed remorse for this act,” said defense attorney Joseph Bell. Bell said that Homentosky has turned into a fantastic artist in prison and annually sends him cards he has created – the latest a sketch of Elvis Presley playing a guitar and having a “blue Christmas.”

Bell said he anticipates that Homentosky will spend some time after his release in a halfway house and reintroduced into society. He said he is trying to find work for him, hopefully in the graphics art field.

Attorney James Porfido was a Morris County assistant prosecutor when he tried Homentosky in 1996, and he said he recognized that Homentosky received a very harsh sentence but one he believes was appropriate to the facts. Wright’s death sparked numerous events, including the creation of the Teresa G. Wright Promise Foundation, which provides public presentations on the hazards of drunken driving. Porfido is a member of the foundation board.

Wright’s husband, attorney William Wright, went on a crusade to toughen penalties for motorists who recklessly caused a death, particularly by drinking. In December 1995, Teri’s Law was passed, which made it a second-degree crime to cause the death of a person by reckless driving. William Wright was out jogging in 1997 when he was struck and killed on a stretch of Route 10 not far from where his wife was killed.

The penalty for death-by-auto now is up to 10 years, with a minimum of three years to be served before parole. Previously, a reckless driver who caused a death could receive less than a year in a county jail. The new law was not applicable to Homentosky and prosecutors, anyhow, tried him under the far more serious charge of aggravated manslaughter.

Michael Homentosky leaves the courtroom during his trial in 1996. He was found guilty of aggravated manslaughter in the death of a 39-year-old Randolph woman the year before when he ran a red traffic light at 82 miles an hour. (Staff photo: John Bell)

A roadside memorial at the intersection of Dover Chester Road in Randolph marks the spot where Teresa Wright was killed after Michael Homentosky rammed into her Jeep while driving drunk. (File photo: Bob Karp)


January 8, 2010

Man who killed Randolph mom in ’95 DWI crash to be paroled

Victim’s sister: He’s forgiven

By Peggy Wright
Daily Record

Michael Homentosky, whose drunken driving in 1995 killed a Randolph mother of three and led to stricter driving laws, will be released on parole in March after serving 15 years in state prison, authorities said.

Parole board members on Tuesday approved Homentosky, now 50, for release from East Jersey State Prison on March 2 and he will be supervised on parole until at least August 2011, said Neal Buccino, spokesman for the state Parole Board.

Lisa Senters, the younger sister of victim Teresa G. Wright, said she forgave Homentosky almost from the start and does not object to his release.

”My sister was a very strong Christian, as am I, and I believe that forgiveness is really important for everyone,” said Senters, of Atlanta, Ga. ”I don’t feel he went out that day with a mission to hurt anyone and I pray that he can change his life and do really great things.”

On Feb. 22, 1995, Homentosky, then 36, borrowed a Jeep from his employer at a nail salon and visited his mother’s gravesite, where he admittedly held ”a pity party” for himself while guzzling vodka. He had the Jeep moving at more than 80 mph when he ran a red light and slammed into Wright’s Jeep Cherokee at Dover-Chester Road in Randolph.

His blood-alcohol level was .21 percent, or more than twice the .10 percent level a motorist was considered drunk at that time. The legal level has since been lowered to .08 percent. While on parole, he will not be permitted to drink any alcohol but it was unclear whether he could try to obtain a driver’s license.

Teresa Wright, a 39-year-old school nurse and Randolph mother, had her three children in the Cherokee. They were pulled to safety but Wright suffered traumatic brain injuries and was disconnected from life support two days later.

Because of the extreme recklessness he had shown, Homentosky was charged with the first-degree crime of aggravated manslaughter, for which a Morris County jury convicted him in 1996. He was sentenced on April 8, 1996, to 30 years in prison, with 15 years before parole consideration. Between the time he spent in the Morris County jail and state prison, he has fulfilled the minimum term of 15 years.

”Michael has told me that not a day has gone by that he has not expressed remorse for this act,” said defense attorney Joseph Bell. Bell said that Homentosky has turned into a fantastic artist in prison and annually sends him cards he has created — the latest a sketch of Elvis Presley playing a guitar and having a ”blue Christmas.”

Bell said he anticipates that Homentosky will spend some time after his release in a halfway house to be reintroduced into society and he is trying to find work for him, hopefully in the graphics art field.

Attorney James Porfido was a Morris County assistant prosecutor when he tried Homentosky in 1996, and he said he recognized that Homentosky received a very harsh sentence but one he believes was appropriate to the facts. Wright’s death sparked numerous events, including the creation of the Teresa G. Wright Promise Foundation which provides public presentations on the hazards of drunken driving. Porfido is a member of the foundation board.

Wright’s husband, attorney William Wright, went on a crusade to toughen penalties for motorists who recklessly caused a death, particularly by drinking. In December 1995, Teri’s Law was passed, which made it a second-degree crime to cause the death of a person by reckless driving. William Wright was out jogging in 1997 when he was struck and killed on a stretch of Route 10 not far from where his wife was killed.

The penalty for death-by-auto now is up to 10 years, with a minimum of three years to be served before parole. Previously, a reckless driver who caused a death could receive less than a year in a county jail. The new law was not applicable to Homentosky and prosecutors, anyhow, tried him under the far more serious charge of aggravated manslaughter.

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