Outrage — NJ woman with 39 license suspensions gets no prison for fatal hit-run
A Camden County courtroom erupted in cries and shouts on Thursday when a judge handed down a probationary sentence against a woman who drove into a high school student last year, leaving the nearly decapitated 16-year-old boy to die on the road.
Prosecutors and Quason “Qua” Turner's family were outraged by the sentence, even more so because Susan Hyland had been driving with a suspended license and a long record of vehicular violations that included 39 license suspensions.
Hyland, an admitted drug addict, was sentenced to five years of probation, during which she must undergo drug treatment. She faces an alternate sentence of 20 years in prison if she violates probation, according to the Courier-Post, which covered the emotional sentencing Thursday.
Prosecutors were unable to charge the Burlington County woman with a more serious vehicular manslaughter charge because too much time had passed between the March accident and her arrest the following day, leaving investigators unable to prove whether she had been under the influence. Hyland was turned into police by her niece.
Hyland pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident and causing an accident while driving with a suspended license.
A Change.org petition, which had more than 700 supporters on Saturday, is calling on prosecutors to appeal the sentencing.
In April, the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers told New Jersey 101.5 that the state's drunk-driving and motor vehicle laws should be tougher.
“We’ve seen countless injuries and fatalities, even over the last year, while someone was driving drunk on a suspended license,” program director Brandon English said at the time. “Driving while suspended is very common. About 50 to 75 percent of drivers with a suspended license are actually driving.”
This is not the first time a fatal hit-and-run or DWI case has incensed New Jersey.
A Morris County jury last year acquitted a woman, with a past DWI record, of charges that she recklessly drove drunk and killed a man in 2012. A judge later found her guilty of a non-criminal DWI motor vehicle violation and sentenced her to rehab.
In Somerset County, former actress Amy Locane-Bovenizer avoided a long prison sentence even though she was convicted of killing a woman and injuring the woman's husband in a drunken crash in 2010. A Superior Court judge in 2013 sentenced Locane to just three years in prison, the least he could hand down, citing the harm that locking her up too long would cause her young sick daughter. Prosecutors appealed, but the judge last month declined to add more time to the sentence.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him
news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremed