Submitted by Jeffrey Hark, New Jersey Criminal Attorney representing Timothy Seidel
Originally published here by Press of Atlantic City
BRIDGETON — Timothy Seidel was sentenced Friday to 19 years in state prison for causing the on-duty death of Millville police officer Christopher Reeves and the severe injuring of a fellow patrolman two years ago.
Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein pronounced the sentence in a courtroom crowded with members of Reeves’ family and representatives from the Millville Police Department.
That included Reeves’ widow, Susan, who listened while the prosecution and defense argued about how long the 25-year-old Commercial Township resident should remain behind bars for his actions. Those actions included Seidel trying to elude pursuing police by speeding through downtown Millville before crashing into Reeves’ police cruiser at more than 70 miles an hour.
Eventually, Susan Reeves stood before Malestein, tearfully calling Seidel a coward and a man who is yet to take responsibility for killing her husband leaving their young son, Alex, without the father who the boy adored.
“I want to hate him,” Reeves said. “And for a while I truly did. But as I stand and look at him today, I realize that is just a waste of what precious life I have left. After today, I will not give him one more thought, one more second of my time.”
Reeves said she visits her husband’s grave every day, and that his loss remains difficult.
“Every cop car I see is him,” she said. “Every uniform I see is him.”
Reeves said her husband’s death also ended her career with the Millville Police Department.
“I lost my career,” she said. “I had to give it up because I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to be there for my son.”
As for Seidel, he also stood before Malestein, shackled, trembling and barely able to speak. He told Malestein that he wound up in court on Friday “because I made a terrible mistake.”
“I know I can never repair the damages I have done,” Seidel said. “I just hope that one day the persons affected by this tragedy can find it in their hearts to forgive me. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
The prosecution and defense argued before sentencing about whether Seidel was so intoxicated that he truly did not recall events leading up to the crash. Seidel told Malestein that he eventually saw the crash as filmed by the camera of a pursuing Millville police cruiser.
“I was devastated,” he said.
The 40-year-old Reeves died after Seidel plowed into Reeves’ patrol car at the intersection of Broad and 3rd streets around 2:15 a.m. on July 8, 2012.
Authorities said the accident followed a “chain of incidents” that began the evening of July 7, 2012, when a drunken Seidel fought with the boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend at a Millville bar. Seidel was thrown out of the bar, and wound up racing through the city as he fled police who tried to stop him for speeding. Seidel’s vehicle eventually struck Reeves’ police car as authorities said Reeves was on his way to assist fellow officers in apprehending Seidel.
In the vehicle with Reeves was Jonathan Seidel. Jonathan Seidel was at the time a new Millville police officer who was being given a nighttime tour of that city by Reeves.
Jonathan Seidel, who is still suffering from the injuries sustained in the crash, is not related to Timothy Seidel.
On Friday, Malestein sentenced Timothy Seidel to 14 years in state prison on charge of aggravated manslaughter linked to Reeves’ death.
Malestein then imposed a 5-year sentence on a charge of aggravated assault in connection with the injuries suffered by Jonathan Seidel. That sentence runs consecutive to the penalty imposed on the aggravated manslaughter offense.
Timothy Seidel must serve 85 percent of that 19-year sentence before being eligible for parole. He will then be on probation for three years, Malestein ruled.
“Nothing good can ever come from eluding police in such as fashion,” Malestein said. “While drinking is certainly not illegal presently … it led to the tragic result in this case.”