What to Know
- Pedro Abad was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with the March 20, 2015 crash that killed 2 men
- Prosecutors say he was drunk, that his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, when smashed head-on into a tractor-trailer
- Abad had pleaded not guilty; his attorney said the horrific accident was "not caused by intoxication"
A former New Jersey police officer has been found guilty of all charges, including the top count of aggravated vehicular homicide, in a drunken driving crash that killed a fellow cop and another man two years ago.
A jury found 29-year-old Pedro Abad guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and other crimes on Thursday following a day of deliberations. He faces 25 years in prison.
Abad was remanded to jail until his sentencing June 8.
Abad had pleaded not guilty in the March 20, 2015 crash that killed a fellow Linden police officer, Frank Viggiano, and a friend, Joe Rodriguez. Both were 28.
Joe's father was choking up after hearing the verdict.
"This is just another chapter of this horrible journey," Angelo Rodriguez said. "My family, my wife's family, plus all of Joesph's aunts, uncles, cousins and friends."
In a statement Thursday, Linden Police Dept. Lt. Christopher Guenther said he hoped that all of those affected by the tragedy could find some closure in the decision.
"Frank and Joe were taken from us too soon," Guenther said in the statement. "While these proceedings may be behind us, there is no verdict that can take away the emptiness and pain we feel."
Prosecutors have said Abad drank to "obliteration" at a Staten Island strip club before his vehicle collided head-on into a tractor-trailer on the West Shore Expressway. They say Abad had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Abad's lawyer, Mario Gallucci, has questioned the numbers, saying his client had lost so much blood that transfusions had contaminated the blood alcohol reading. During summations Wednesday, Gallucci called the crash a tragedy and a horrific accident that was "not caused by intoxication."
At one point, Gallucci wanted to have Abad tested for a date-rape drug the lawyer said he could have been slipped at the strip club.
Gallucci said Abad would not let him poll the jury, saying they had gone through enough.
"He turned to me and said I'm at peace," Gallucci said. "He says God told him what happened and he deserves to be punished."