NJ’s Top Court Won’t Hear Detective’s Crash Appeal
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s top court will not hear the case of a state police detective who was indicted after seriously injuring a Philadelphia man in a pre-dawn car crash.
The Supreme Court’s decision means prosecutors will be able to use blood test results against William Billingham, who has pleaded not guilty to assault by auto.
According to court papers, Billingham was driving an unmarked car on Interstate 295 in Camden County in March 2009 when he rear-ended another vehicle, causing it to flip over. The driver suffered cuts and bruises and was released after being treated at an emergency room, but Billingham suffered several broken ribs and was hospitalized.
Blood was taken, but the state didn’t seek the test results until months after the accident, after the attorney general received an anonymous letter saying alcohol had been involved. A state police investigation concluded Billingham’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.276, more than three times the legal limit.
The investigation later revealed that Billingham had attended a function the night of the accident at which alcohol was served, though a witness couldn’t say whether he had seen him drinking or intoxicated.
In 2011, Billingham was indicted on one count of fourth-degree assault by auto and filed a motion to suppress the blood test results.
A state Superior Court judge approved his motion, saying that state police didn’t have authority to use the test results because they were subpoenaed well after the accident. But that ruling was overturned last December by a three-judge appellate panel, which found that the state acted reasonably once it obtained information that alcohol may have been involved and that the matter needed further investigation.
A fourth-degree crime is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 18 months upon conviction, but officials have said it is unlikely Billingham would serve time because he has no prior criminal record.
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