Drunken driver sentenced in fatal crash

An­gel Roque was sen­tenced to three to sev­en years in state pris­on for the 2011 hit and run that killed Joyce Kenny. 

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. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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