Former New Jersey man loses appeal of guilty plea in Orange County vehicular homicide

GOSHEN – A former Vernon, New Jersey man who is serving five to 15 years in a New York prison for a drunk and drugged driving crash in Warwick on November 4, 2017 that resulted in the deaths of two of his passengers, has lost the appeal to his conviction and sentence.

Christopher Perrella

Christopher Perrella, 37, pled guilty in Orange County Court to aggravated vehicular manslaughter in the deaths of Emily Carwile, 36, of Vernon, New Jersey, and Jessica Dussault, 30, of Hopatcong, New Jersey. Another passenger, Joseph Giordano, 32, of Columbia, New Jersey, was injured when the 2005 BMW convertible crashed into a house.

In his appeal before the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court, Perrella argued that his guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. That was rejected by the appeals court.

(video: Mark Lieb, Rockland Video Productions)

The court did rule that the prosecution’s purported contention that he waived his right to appeal is invalid. “During the oral colloquy, the county court incorrectly suggested that the waiver was an absolute bar to the taking of an appeal. The written waiver of the right to appeal in this case is an absolute bar to taking an appeal and fails to include any ‘clarifying language’ to indicate that ‘appellate review remain[s] available for certain issues” or that “the right to take an appeal [is] retained,” the court decision stated.

“Accordingly, the purported waver does not preclude review of his excessive sentence claim.  However, the sentence imposed was not excessive,” the appellate decision wrote.

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