I-Team Exclusive: Forgotten Victim Gets Chance To Raise Voice In Court
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By Walt Hunter
MEDFORD, N.J., (CBS) — Following an exclusive I-Team report, a judge ordered a new sentencing hearing, allowing Cynthia Onofrio, who was run down on her bicycle by a DUI driver, to testify against her attacker.
An I-Team Investigation first revealed that Onofrio, who suffered a fractured spine after being struck by admitted DUI driver Vincent Marini, was denied justice, never told about a guilty plea and sentencing for the suspect that took place without her on January 8th (See Previous Story).
This morning Onofrio, her spine supported by pins and bars inserted during a 7 hour operation,made her way into the Medford Municipal Court where she was permitted to testify.
“I am going to allow the victim to be heard, allowing that healing process to occur,” Judge Peter Lange announced, apologizing to Onofrio that she had been excluded from the original hearing.
Onofrio’s attorney told the court that he, the victim and her family had all made numerous calls and sent an email asking to be kept informed about the January 8th hearing, but that didn’t happen.
“I pushed the bike off of me, I was in excruciating pain, I started to scream and yell,” Onofrio testified.
“I wake up crying every morning, just trying to make it through the day.”
The victim’s attorney, Mike van der Veen, presented evidence to the court that Marini, following his first sentencing, had posted his driving record, which the judge called “atrocious” on Facebook, scribbling LOL, Laugh Out Loud, across the bottom as a taunt.
As the hearing ended, the judge imposed his original sentence of a fine and a 7 month license suspension,explaining it was the maximum the law allowed, and, adding, he wished he could give Marini jail time.
Marini, who mumbled an apology in court, had no comment as he left court, nor did his attorney.
But as she left court, Onofrio, who can no longer climb stairs or lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter, “It’s good to be able to tell my story, but I don’t have closure.”
The victim, who told the court she has accumulated more than half a million in medical bills and is in danger of losing her home, added, “he showed no remorse, no remorse, he’ll be back on the road again, God help the kids.”
“My client was seriously injured by the impaired driver and by the court system,” stated Onofrio’s attorney. “This isn’t over, we will be pursuing damages in civil court.”