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Pickup Driver Who Killed Woman At Hawthorne Farmers Market Convicted

James Woetzel
James Woetzel Photo Credit: COURTESY: Passaic County Sheriff

HAWTHORNE, N.J. -- A man who crashed his pickup truck into a farmers market in Hawthorne, killing a woman, was convicted Thursday of aggravated manslaughter, among other charges.

Jurors in Paterson deliberated for six hours or so over two days before rendering their verdict against James Woetzel, 51, following a seven-week trial.

Woetzel had been sniffing chemicals from an aerosol can when he drove his new Dodge Ram pickup through a barricade, hitting three people while sending stands flying, at the Hawthorne Farmers Market in August 2014.

The victims included Donna Wine, 58, who coincidentally lived in the same apartment complex as Woetzel. She'd been standing at a vegetable stand with a friend who was also struck, prosecutors said.

Woetzel then sped off, dragging Wine for a third of a mile before a motorist got him to stop at Lafayette Avenue, they said.

Wine was pronounced dead at the scene.

Woetzel later claimed that he'd blacked out and couldn't remember anything.

A blood sample found diflouroethane, a chemical found in computer cleaner, in his system, prosecutors said, adding that Woetzel had used it frequently.

Jurors also convicted Woetzel of two counts of death by auto while acquitting him of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Portelli immediately revoked Woetzel's $200,000 bail and ordered that he remain in the Passaic County Jail -- where he'd been held since his arrest -- pending a Nov. 17 sentencing.

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