Joyce Kenny never knew what hit her as the 54-year-old was walking across Torresdale Avenue to catch a bus shortly after dawn on Sept. 29, 2011.
Angel Roque’s voluminous rap sheet wasn’t posted on the front grill of his blue 1993 GMC pickup, the one with the silver flames on the hood and fenders. Nor was his blood-content reading floating in the air above him, as if he were a videogame avatar.
Roque and his truck were very real and very deadly to Kenny. The speeding vehicle struck her near the Torresdale and Fraley Street intersection and kept on going northbound as Kenny lay fatally injured in the street. Roque later reported the truck stolen in an attempt to distance himself from the vehicular slaying. But on Sept. 3, he met justice — or Philly’s version of it at least.
Roque, now 30, pleaded guilty to DUI, homicide by vehicle while DUI and causing an accident involving death or personal injury. A Common Pleas Court judge then sentenced him to serve three to seven years in state prison, in agreement with a plea bargain offered to Roque by the District Attorney’s Office.
Roque already has served almost two years behind bars while awaiting trial in the case and will be given credit for time served.
During the sentencing hearing, the victim’s brother reportedly offered an atypical impact statement for the court’s consideration. James R. Kenny asked Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart to have mercy on Roque.
“I know about his other offenses, but I do know there is goodness inside this person,” the brother said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
It’s unknown if the brother has seen Roque’s full rap sheet. According to court records, Roque has been arrested and charged at least 16 times since he was 19 years old. Among those cases, 13 involved drug offenses (possession and/or distribution), while two involved gun charges. He also had a prior DUI-related accident involving injury on his record.
Astonishingly, prosecutors withdrew all charges in seven of those cases for unspecified reasons, while the courts dismissed two more for lack of proof. Two others were dismissed because prosecutors failed to try the cases within the allotted time. A judge found Roque not guilty in another case, leaving four cases in which he was found guilty of at least one charge against him.
Roque was convicted of drug possession in a 2004 case and sentenced to one year probation. He pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle without a license or registration in a 2007 case, but earned no probation or jail time.
On Feb. 1, 2008, Roque was allegedly drunk driving in the city’s 25th Police District when he struck and injured at least three people. He ultimately pleaded guilty to causing an accident involving injury or death as well as reckless endangerment, and earned three years probation. Prosecutors dropped DUI and drug possession charges.
Roque was still on probation in the 2008 case when the Torresdale Avenue hit-and-run occurred. At the time, he was living on the 4800 block of Devereaux St. in Wissinoming.
The crash occurred at about 6:45 a.m. on the 5400 block of Torresdale Ave. According to testimony at a March 13, 2012, preliminary hearing, Roque was high on cocaine and marijuana and driving northbound when Kenny stepped off a curb and into his path. The motorist did not stop at the scene. A witness tried to aid the victim and called 911. Investigators estimated that the truck was traveling at 39 to 49 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Police found the distinctive-looking truck at about 8:10 that morning parked on the 5900 block of Milnor St., a loop street about a half-mile from the accident scene and a mile from Roque’s house. The truck had body damage consistent with the crash as well as a broken window and missing stereo seemingly consistent with a stolen vehicle, although the steering column was intact.
Around the same time, Roque called police to report that the truck had been stolen. When an officer arrived at his house at about 9 a.m. to investigate, Roque reported that he had returned home from work at about 3:15 a.m., then noticed his truck was missing at about 7:15 a.m. Roque’s girlfriend allegedly corroborated that story. Police found no alcohol in his system, but Roque claimed to have taken the prescription drug Xanax after returning home from work.
The alibi soon unraveled. Police observed that the truck window had been broken from the inside, not the outside. Police obtained surveillance video from a local strip club that showed the truck being driven on Tacony Street near Homestead Street minutes after the crash. A short time later, a man was seen walking from the vicinity of the truck and crossing Tacony Street with a car stereo in his hands.
Investigators then contacted Roque’s co-worker, who claimed that they both had worked until about 5:15 a.m. at a Delaware County-based repossession company. The co-worker identified Roque as the man in the strip club video and claimed that Roque had called him on the morning of the crash to ask him to lie to police about when the pair had left work.
Despite the mounting evidence against him, Roque continued to deny involvement in the crash. Police arrested him on Oct. 12, 2011, two weeks after the crash. During the preliminary hearing, defense attorney Guy R. Sciolla argued that no witnesses identified Roque behind the wheel of the truck and no one saw him try to stage the theft ruse. Further, Sciolla argued that the video surveillance tape was inconclusive.
The writer of this news article is not related to the victim in the case. ••