Share This Page

Plea deal in North Huntingdon drunken-driving case rejected

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

A potential plea bargain for a Penn Township man fell through Thursday when prosecutors refused to drop felony assault charges connected with an alleged drunken-driving incident two years ago.

The attorney for Derek Grove, 20, said the prosecution cannot prove that two passengers in a car that crashed on Oct. 15, 2010, were seriously injured.

“One report says there was no bodily injury and another doctor is vague but said there could be some in the future,” said defense attorney Richard Galloway.

Grove is facing charges of drunken driving, aggravated assault while driving drunk and related offenses.

His passengers, Christian Bosco, 20, and Thomas Newman, 19, were injured in the crash. Bosco suffered a broken leg and other injuries, and Newman sustained a spinal fracture and head injuries, according to Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers.

Hammers said her office will not dismiss the aggravated assault charges.

Police contend that Grove, a college sophomore, was drunk after consuming Four Loko, a malt liquor beverage that contained caffeine.

North Huntingdon police charged that Grove's 2001 Chevrolet Malibu sedan was traveling 88 mph five seconds before it crashed on Morris Avenue, just east of Oak Hollow Park.

Witnesses told police that Grove and his passengers drank the caffeinated alcoholic beverage in the park before the crash.

According to court records, Grove's car struck a tree at 65 mph. Police said the speed limit on that section of the road is 45 mph.

Court records indicated that Grove's blood-alcohol level was 0.178 percent, or more than twice the limit at which a motorist in Pennsylvania is considered to be intoxicated.

Galloway said his client was ready to plead guilty to the drunken-driving charges and accept a sentence in which Grove would serve a period on house arrest.

With that deal off the table, Grove will challenge the propriety of the assault charges, Galloway said.

Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell said he wants to hear testimony from the victims before deciding if the charges should stand.

“It's a legitimate question as to whether serious bodily injury exists in this case,” Bell said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.