🔴 Accused NJ drunk driver indicted for killing in hit-and-run

🔴 Victim was retired Army colonel, wife of Centenary University president

🔴 Defendant already turned down plea deal in case

HACKETTSTOWN — An accused drunk driver has been indicted on charges stemming from the hit-and-run killing of a retired U.S. Army colonel, who was also married to the president of Centenary University.

Jeanne Murphy died on Jan. 8, a day after being struck while on a morning walk near the campus in Hackettstown.

Jefferson Chimbo-Pelaez was arrested the day of the 70-year-old woman’s death and was issued a number of summonses — including DWI and being an unlicensed driver.

Centenary University, Hackettstown (Google maps)
Centenary University, Hackettstown (Google maps)

On March 28, the 25-year-old was indicted by a Warren County grand jury on counts of aggravated manslaughter, death by auto, strict liability vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and endangering an injured victim.

Investigators have said Chimbo-Pelaez was intoxicated at the time of the deadly hit-and-run.

Earlier in the month, he turned down a plea deal that would have meant roughly 10 years in prison, as reported by NJ Herald.

Before the tragic crash, Bruce Murphy had already announced plans in September to retire as Centenary University President at the end of his contract in late June.

In February, the Centenary University Board of Trustees unanimously approved Dale Caldwell as the University’s next president — starting in July.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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