CVP EXCLUSIVE: A math teacher whose car slammed into a police cruiser, critically injuring Bergen County Police Officer Daniel Breslin on Route 46 in Lodi a year ago yesterday, “absolutely won’t” take a plea deal and insists on going to trial, his lawyer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT today.
“You can count on it — big headline,” defense attorney Brian Neary said. “I’m ready to defend the case.”
Asked on what basis, Neary declined to elaborate.
The trial could begin this fall if defendant Michael Ettz of Lodi doesn’t have a change of heart.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney, who offered Ettz seven years in state prison in exchange for a guilty plea — six before he’d be eligible for parole — declined to respond.
Delaney last month said an expert’s report shows that Ettz had a blood alcohol level of .219 that “greatly contributed to the accident.”
Psychopharmacologist John Brick is prepared to testify that Michael Ettz was “severely impaired” when the crash occurred at 1:50 a.m. last April 19, the prosecutor said.
Delaney also said surveillance video shows Ettz’s vehicle hitting Breslin’s car in the rear and slamming it into a utility pole at the side of the road with such an impact that it activated the cruiser’s emergency lights.
“That is not from an in-car vehicle — it’s from a surveillance camera at Enterprise Rent-a-Car,” he said.
Ettz, who was accompanied to court again today by his wife. was expressionless and subdued during a brief procedural hearing.
Delaney told Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian that he gave Neary two more CDs of evidence today, along with surveillance video from two area businesses.
Except for ongoing witness interviews, “that wraps it up for us,” Delaney said.
Neary said he wants to be sure who made cellphone calls that are part of the prosecution’s case. He also has said he believes the surveillance videos contain key evidence.
Ettz, meanwhile, remains free on $150,000 bail.
A grand jury in Hackensack indicted Ettz in August on charges of aggravated assault, DWI assault by auto and leaving the scene of a crash with serious injuries.
Breslin, meanwhile, was continuing physical rehabilitation.
The officer had stopped his SUV in the right lane of Route 46 to block traffic from hitting a county police car stopped on the right shoulder, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.
The other officer was having radio problems, the prosecutor explained. Ettz’s four-door 2012 Ford Fusion slammed into Breslin’s SUV, trapping the officer, who had to be extricated, the prosecutor said.
Ettz then tried to make a run for it after being pulled from his car but was caught by a Lodi police sergeant, he said.
Breslin sustained a “significant head injury” and was brought to surgery with a skull fracture and bleeding after a CAT scan was done following the 1:50 a.m. crash, Molinelli said.
He also sustained several broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
Ettz, a Lodi High School teacher, previously had his driver’s license suspended 240 days for a drunk driving conviction out of Clifton.
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