22 August 2001

It's a Better Deal to Flee the Scene of an Accident

The hit-and-run case of Mark Aaron Torre, a Phoenix lawyer and graduate of ASU and Harvard Law School, is drawing a lot of attention. Torre faces felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident - 18 year old Jessica Woodin died crossing the intersection of McAllister and Apache, after being propelled 300 feet (the AZ Republic story says "dragged 100 feet", but an officer on KTAR Leibowitz said "propelled 300 feet" and estimated the vehicle speed at 55+ ...) after getting struck by a speeding Ford Mustang owned by Torre. Obviously, Torre is abreast of Arizona law, and leaving the scene of an accident is a much preferred charge over manslaughter, negligent homicide, or 2nd degree murder (if alcohol was involved). On the KTAR Leibowitz show, the jail time penalties for the various charges were detailed:
  • Leaving the scene of a fatal accident: 1-3.75 years
  • Manslaughter (speeding, driving violation): 3-12.5 years
  • 2nd degree murder (alcohol involved): Up to 22 years

There's going to be no way to ascertain the blood alcohol content of Mr. Torre at the time of the accident. And in the dark of night, estimates of speed will be disputed by Torre's legal representatives. So, it looks like that leaving the scene of an accident is the preferred choice of action for an dangerous, irresponsible driver.

Leibowitz took some heat from callers for instructing listeners that "fleeing the scene" would be beneficial - also, the "loophole" whereby someone may refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test and police do not follow proper procedure in those instances was highlighted as another way defendents avoid the more severe rap.

And on yesterday's KFYI Mohan in the Morning show, the story was also discussed from a different perspective - that is, in the zeal to crack down on drunk driving offenses, the increase in penalty severity has caused anyone who has even drank one beer trepidation at potential consequences. All of the measures to increase drunk driving sentences, lower the blood-alcohol level (lowered to .08), mandatory jail time, etc. have resulted in more of these types of cases.

Comments

Jessie was a good friend of mine and Mark is a piece of shit he deserves to die for his negligent actions!!!!!!!!
When you drink and drive, you need to pay for your actions especially when they affect the welfare of another human being.

Leaving the scene of an accident, being an attorney, is criminal. Torre should have all his legal priveleges removed and hopefully will be disbarred, and pay the maximum legal sentence.

May the guilt of his actions be the maximum punishment througout the remainder of his life.
Fleeing the scene is the best thing for these type of criminals. A kid was hit by driver, after leaving bar, and fleed after. He got charged with leaving scene of fatal accident. Kid was on bicycle. Problem with pursuing this charge is there has to be proof that he knew he hit someone to convict him. Loopholes are how criminals get out of punishment for what they done.
In the matter of The State of Arizona vs. Mark Aaron Torre
It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and say that Mark Torre got what was coming to him when he was sentenced to a 9 1/2 year prison term for the hit-and-run death of Jessica Woodin that occurred in late 2001. I wonder though, how many people have really thought that through. It seems that once the media got a hold of it and once the prosecutors saw that Mark had a Harvard Law degree, he was going to be the one that they would make an example out of. To some, the fact that he was intelligent and successful seemed to imply that he was going to get away with something. It was assumed that he was a person of "privilege" and we all rallied behind the lynch-mob in the hopes of not letting a person like that get away with anything. After all, we've seen first hand what happens when people of privilege get into trouble. It seems the best defense is one that can be purchased. Those with money, more often than not, seem to be able to walk away from their crimes. Others assumed that because he was a practicing attorney, he must also be an expert on criminal law. Few people if any, bothered to find out that when he was a practicing attorney he specialized in commercial litigation and he probably knew little more of criminal law than any other lay-person and no one seemed to care what kind of person he was. Pretty soon, he wasn't even a person - just a monster and a cold-blooded criminal who deserved more than the maximum. After all, how many hit-and-run cases have resulted in such a harsh punishment? Take Bishop O'Brien for example, here is a man who is supposed to be a pillar of the community, someone to look up to. He hits a jaywalker and leaves him there to die and how much time did he get? He was sentenced to four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. The judge is his case claimed to have reviewed 99 other similar cases when imposing the sentence. Where were those 99 other cases when Mark was sentenced? What about Sean Cooney? He drove his boat drunk, his friend fell off and died, he then lied to police about what happened and what was his sentence? 30 days in jail and a $442 fine.

I have read every article I can find on this case and not once have I seen anything printed that gives any insight into who Mark Torre really is. At first read, I'm ready to join the masses in the opinion that he should be sent away for as long as possible. There are some people who even think that he doesn't deserve a second thought, after all if he is a monster, who cares what kind of person he is.

Let me ask you this. How many of you have driven down a road at 2:00 in the morning, maybe with a few beers, maybe without. It's dark, it's late, you are probably exceeding the speed limit like many of us do at that hour - just trying to get home. What would you do if a person walked in front of your car, against a "don't walk" sign. Would you panic? Would your instincts kick in? What would your 3-second decision be? Would you do the moral and ethical thing or would you act in fear? I'd like to think I would have my wits about me and that I would have done the moral and ethical thing - BUT THE TRUTH IS... I don't know what I would have done and either do any of you. No one can say without a shadow of a doubt that they would have done this or that. You can’t say anything unless you were in that exact set of circumstances at that exact moment. That is the truth.

I'm not justifying Mr. Torre's actions and I'm not simplifying this horrific tragedy. Losing a loved one is one of the worst things a person can go through. I know this personally. At first the loss is so overwhelming that we look for someone to blame. I understand that part of it. I just think that we owe it ourselves and to any other fellow human being to consider all of the facts before we jump to conclusions about who is and who is not a monster and what that person does or does not deserve. This case was tried in the media well before it was tried in a court of law and if it were me or one of my friends I would have a hard time accepting that a prison sentence in excess of the maximum, given by a judge that was up for re-election was the best possible justice.

Now that Mr. Torre's sentence was vacated on Count 2 (leaving the scene of a fatal accident he did not cause), there will likely be a re-sentencing hearing held. In all probability the state will once again pursue the maximum presumptive term, which is 2 & 1/2 years. That is 2 & 1/2 years in addition to the six years he is already serving. What, if anything is that going to accomplish? Is 2 & 1/2 years going to change the death of an innocent victim? Is 2 & 1/2 more years going to make Mark Torre anymore remorseful than he already is?
I think you miss the point of the article -- that if he would not have fleed and been found to be DUI, the maximum jailtime penalty would be 22.5 years.

The difference betwen Torre and Bishop O'Brien. Whether warranted or not, much lobbying has been done to make drunk driving, and tragic accidents caused from being DUI very harshly penalized.
IN RESONSE TO GUESTS(#5) LONGWINDED AND DRAWN OUT ESSAY ON POOR POOR MARKS PLIGHT,I WOULD LIKE TO BRING ATTENTION TO ANOTHERS PLIGHT--THAT OF MY WIFE-JUSTINE TALARICO (JESSICA WOODINS MOTHER).. LIKE MYSELF, SHE ENDURED THAT TRIAL OF POOR POOR MARK-POOR MARK WHO NEVER ONCE ADDMITTED TO DOING ANYTHING OVER 40 MPH-HE LEFT THE SCENE-SO I GUESS HE NEVER DID GET TO SEE JESSIE BODY SLICED IN HALF FROM THE SPEED AND FORCE OF IMPACT-WE -ON THE OTHER HAND-WERE NOT SO LUCKY.GUEST ALSO DOESNT GET TO SEE-SO MANY YEARS LATER-JESSICAS MOTHER CRY-EACH AND EVERY DAY, OR TAKE HER TO HER BEREAVEMENT GROUP-WHERE SHE IS TRYING TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS-AND YET HELP OTHER PARENTS WHO HAVE HAD THEIR LOVED ONES LITERALLY TORE AWAY FROM THEM.GUEST WASNT AT THE TRIAL-TO SEE MARKS ARROGANCE-AND DENIALS OF THE TRUTH-WHICH THE PROSECUTERS WORKED SO FEVERISHLY TO BRING TO LIGHT-WE WERE-AND WE APPLAUDE THEM-AND THE POLICE DEPARTMENTS EFFPRTS TO BRING THIS ANIMAL-AND KILLER, TO JUSTICE.OHH, POOR POOR MARK,OR IS IT NOW MARCIA? CUTE LITTLE PREPPY IN HIS PINK JUMPSUIT..MAYNE NOW HE CAN SEE WHAT THE TERM 'BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA ' IS--WHEN HES BENDING OVER,PICKING UP THE SOAP.TO 'GUEST',WE WERE THERE,MARK TORRE IS NO MORE REMORSEFUL NOW ,THAN THE ARROGANT LITTLE PISS ANT WAS THAT 2 WEEKS IN COURT.MAY HE BURN IN HELL FOR WHAT HE DID TO JESSICA-AND MY WIFE!!
In response to angry post #7 and the narrow-minded response, I'm not saying "poor, poor Mark" at all. That was not the purpose of my "essay". If you would have read what I had to say you would have understood that the issue here is that the punishment should fit the crime and that it should fit the crime for EVERYONE who commits this particualr crime and NOT just Mark. That "justice" should be equal. The other purpose of my post was to point out that very few people took the time to get to know who Mark was but INSTEAD assumed many things about him. If you knew anything about him you would know that he is NOT a murderer or an animal at all but instead is a fellow human being - just like you - except that he made a mistake by leaving the scene of an accident that he did not cause. Yes, it's sad that Jessica died and yes Mark IS sorry that she died. If there was something he could have done to avoid the accident, he would have. He has to live with this tradegy day in and day out for the rest of his life. He did not walk away unscathed and he has not escaped anything. He was a productive member of society before this happened as well as a loving father of two little boys. Those two little boys are now serving a prison sentence of their own and that is not fair to them. No, it's NOT "poor, poor Mark" at all. I hope that you and your wife find the ability to let go of some of your anger and put this whole tradegy behind you. I know personally what it is like to lose a loved one and I understand the need for someone to blame. But forgiveness and letting go are the keys to dealing with something this horrible. My prayers are with you and your wife...
Again, let me remind you of who i am,I am married to the mother of Jessica Woodin, so as not to confuse me with someone who WAS NOT in court for two weeks with your productive citizen Mark. You say he is sorry, we wouldnt know, because those words never reached my wife by him. Instead, all he did was lie about the speed he was going, even after countless witness documentation .Actually, upon sentencing, i believe judge keppel even called him a liar that showed no remorse for his crime. I feel that all that WERE there, saw that, and firmly believe that he really believed, that because he WAS an educated, semi-productive person, that he would not be subject to the same judicial process that people of lesser stature are subject to. NOW, as far as him being a father, thats not a very legit reason for him being a free man is it? , seeing that although they will be older when he he is free, they ARE still alive, to spend Fathers day,and Christmas, and birthdays with him. We on the other hand, will never have that pleasure again, thanks to the fact that instead of BEING a father,and productive person,and loving husband, he was out drinking and doing whatever else he was doing that evening, including challenging another mustang to a road race on Apache Drive. I am a responsible father to my own two little boys and cruising college campuses and showing off with my own little race car is most definetly not in my schedule of events that need to be done. MARK Torre COULD have avoided that accident, by not drinking and driving, and may i add SPEEDING. WE do acknowledge the fact that Jessie was partial to blame, for not crossing correctly at that intersection,and being on the road that night, but we feel she should have been made to stay in HER ROOM the next day. NOT CUT IN HALF AND LEFT ON THE ROAD! Another point, you say Mark is not a murderer, I wholeheartedly disagree ,in our eyes, and in the eyes of of OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM, he IS a murderer, a convicted murderer, maybe not a serial murderer, but nevertheless, a murderer, and the courts feel he needs time to sit,and contemplate his crime, and maybe develop some moral character while he is there, and THEN maybe, he will be fit for society. As far as my wifes anger, and my own, it is focused on one individual, and that is the man that KILLED Jessica Woodin. Your Mark Torre.
Well, seems like ol Mark DID get his 2 years taken off his sentence. I guess that opens the door for us to appeal and try to get some time off JESSICAS sentence.. Oh wait, we cant do that ,can we, SHES DEAD!!.
Why does the charge say he did not cause the accident? Was he deemed to not be at fault at all for the accident? Is this because they couldn't prove he was drunk or speeding and the pedestrian was crossing outside of a crosswalk?
The charge reflects partial blame for Jessica, who seemed to cross 'out of the crosswalk', by a few feet, at early hours of the morning,when all 'good' married men are at home with their wives and children, not cruising the college campus in their race cars, and not looking for a dragrace with other cars..In Arizona, partial blame is allocated in instances such as this,with Mark Torre being at least seventy five per cent to blame. When you are crossing slightly 'out of the crosswalk' at one thirty'ish' in the morning,it was found to be very hard to determine the speed of a vehicle coming at you over one hundred miles per hour. In court, it was very hard to prove if he was legally intoxicated but it was proven that he was drinking. Also testimony had him looking like 'something other than alcohol', by the bartender at 'one' of the clubs he was at. He stands by his lie that he was doing no more than forty mph at the time of impact, but yet forensics (which can be off by 20 per cent) had the car at ninety mph. The car was completely demolished and Jessica's body was literally torn in half at the waist. One half of her body wasone hundred yards further down the road than the other. As he drove the demolished car as far as it would go,the scared and frightened little man(rabbit) , left the car where it was,and continued his cowardness by hiding for several days.
I knew Jessica very well... we were friends since high school and not a day goes by that I don't think about her and what happened to her on that night. Take the alcohol factor, or the crossing the street factor illegally OUT of the picture. Those are excuses that the defendant's attorney used to defend his client...who underage hasn't had a drink, or J-walked before? Most people have, but can most people say that they killed someone speeding down a road and then left the scene of the crime? The bottom line, and an provable fact was that Mark Torre was traveling at a speed so fast that Jessica's body was split into two seperate pieces and part of her body was launched into the air and found far enough away from the point of impact to prove that Mr. Torre was traveling at an extremely fast speed.
Jessica was about 135, maybe 5'7"...there is absolutely no way he could have hit her and not realized what had happened. I hit a bird the other day in my SUV and felt the impact. Now, I understand, he probably panicked, but to LEAVE THE SCENE and hide for two days, to me at least, is unfathomable. To hit someone and cause her body to be split in half, I'm sure his car wasn't in perfect condition either. It was probably covered in blood and for him to ditch his vehicle and take off on a FOUR HOUR walk, there is no way he could have denied that he wasn't aware of what he had just done.
Jess was one of the most unique, amazing, lively young women I have ever met. She had a magnetic personality and could have been anything she wanted to be in life. Her idol was Brooke Shields and her favorite song was Freshman by the Vervepipe...I remember the last time I saw her and when I found out, I was in serving in the military overseas and got the phone call around midnight...I dropped the phone and literally could not speak for days because my mind could not wrap around the idea that someone like Jess was dead. I have never met anyone like her and probably never will. Do I feel bad for Mark Torre? No, for his family...of course. But the bottom line is that Jessica is dead and it could have been avoided. I know her mom personally and to feel the pain I feel over this, I can't even imagine the pain she feels on a daily basis...Jess was her only child. There is no amount of money that will wipe away the pain she feels--she will live with this for the rest of her life. Try defending Mark Torre and his actions to Justine on Mother's Day? And to put any blame on Jess for what happened is pathetic. Last time I checked, pedestrians have the right of way and speed limits are posted for a reason. Also, aren't you supposed to be watching where you are going when driving a car, in case, let's say...someone's walking across the street. The road she was crossing is a main street and well lit. There is no excuse.
I wouldn't say Torre should die, why put his family through that or let him off that easily? He needs to live out the rest of his life with a clear understanding of what he did to Jess, the people who witnessed what happened, what he's done to his own family, her family and friends who miss her, and the fact that a young woman's life was cut short because of his stupidity. He needs to be reminded on a daily basis, and people need to stop viewing him as some poor guy in who made a mistake...a mistake is when my three-year old colors on the couch, or you accidentally forget your keys and lock yourself out of your car...not killing someone, especially under these circumstances.
Any person involved in an accident must provide information and render aid, if necessary. A hit and run is basically failure on the part of a driver to accept responsibility for their part in a motor accident. It is a serious offense. In 47 states it is considered a felony. In three states - Kentucky, Montana and Utah, it is a misdemeanor. A first time offender can if convicted will be required to pay the victim for damages done to the vehicle, either through his insurance company or in fines assessed by the authorities.
Literally: Leaving the scene of a fatal accident: 1-3.75 years... So now you know the role of the experts and how helpful they can be to a case. Without them, many determinations about a case would not be able to be made. Innocent people would be imprisoned and guilty people would be walking the streets. Many of the fatal accidents that occur are preventable, if people would just pay attention and abide by the laws of the road.
Its hard for whole family.. for sure!!! By staying aware of your surroundings you can help to minimize the chances that you will be involved in an accident, but if you choose to drink and drive or play with your cell phone while you're driving then you are setting yourself up to become a statistic.. Legally, there are the specialists however each State has own regulations..
Unfortunately there is an irreparable loss. There is a Liability insurance for something. Bodily injury liability covers the policy-holder or another covered policy-holder if someone else is injured during a car accident. Bodily injury covers loss of wages, medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, and other expenses associated with the accident. State laws usually mandate minimum amounts, but higher amounts are recommended.
If you are in an accident where you are not necessarily at fault and the other driver does not have liability car insurance, you are protected by insurance known as uninsured motorist coverage.
We should not forget one very important thing in life - help other people. So regarding this post I want to add that a person who is involved in an accident must provide information and render aid!
Actually, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in these instances. When not in a crosswalk, Arizona Revised Statutes, A.R.S., section 28-793(A) provides that, "A pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway."

If the pedestrian is in a crosswalk at an intersection, then they are required by law to observe the posted traffic signals (just as cars are required not to run red lights as well, which is provided in the same statutes). A.R.S. 28-791(A) says that pedestrians are subject to traffic control signals at intersections as provided in section 28-645 unless required by local ordinance to comply strictly with the signals. A.R.S. 28-645(A)(3)(d) states that pedestrians must not enter the roadway when facing a red signal, and 28-646(A)(2) provides that pedestrians do NOT have the right of way, and must obey the pedestrian signals, and must not enter the road on a solid "don't walk" signal.

Pedestrians are actually subject to the same laws as cars are when it comes to traffic signals. People are less concerned with pedestrians who jaywalk than with cars that run lights, however, because cars that run red lights kill other people, while jaywalkers usually don't kill other people through their own negligence. So, while the law requires the same duties of both, society looks more harshly on red light runners in cars, even though their conduct is exactly the same as that of a jaywalker.
Why hasn't anyone brought up the fact that she was drinking, a clear cut fact of the matter, as well as a sign that points to her being more actively involved in her demise than simple victim of circumstance? Or is she simply the victim? And should be held unaccountable for her poor actions and choices?
Pedestrians are actually subject to the same laws as cars are when it comes to traffic signals. Pedestrians are actually subject to the same laws as cars are when it comes to traffic signals.
In reference to AZVISITATION'S comments. I don't know how any rational person can say that a red light runner in cars is the same conduct as that of a jaywalker! (who is dead) Regardless of the law, it is just human to stop and render aid. I'm sure he didn't mean to hit her, but he did and he needed to stop the car and do the right thing.

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