New Jersey Legislation Seeks to Stop Destruction of Evidence

In December 2010, Eddie Morrison, 36, was struck and killed by a car as he walked home from a job interview. The driver, Robert Eisele Jr. did not stop after hitting Morrison with his car. Instead, Eisele left Morrison on the roadside to die, and then rubbed deer meat and blood on his car in an attempt to conceal Morrison's blood.

In addition to a fatal hit and run charge, Eisele is charged with fourth degree tampering with evidence for attempting to cover up his crime. However, Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) recently introduced legislation that would make it a third degree offense to destroy or tamper with evidence or give police false information after leaving the scene of a fatal car accident.

The Effect of the Legislation

Sen. Van Drew's bill, known as "Eddie's Law," would not directly affect Eisele. But it increases the penalties for anyone who does what he did. As a third degree crime, guilty persons would face three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The offender would be required to serve 85 percent of their prison term before being eligible for parole. The hope is to deter drivers who hit someone from destroying evidence of their crime.

The Bill's Status

Eddie's Law was referred to the New Jersey Senate's Law and Public Safety Committee in February 2011 and is still being considered. The goal is clear: to prevent drivers who caused fatal accidents from trying to avoid responsibility by leaving in the first place. From a prosecution perspective, it will help preserve evidence of fatal hit and run accidents should the driver deny culpability.

Hitting another human being with your car and leaving them for dead is bad enough, but to then consciously work to conceal all evidence of your crime is shameful. The goal of New Jersey's pending legislation is to deter such behavior by increasing the consequences for interfering with evidence after fleeing an automobile accident.