New Jersey State Trooper Robert Higbee was found not guilty of two vehicular homicide charges in the deaths of Upper Township sisters Jacqueline, 17, and Christina, 19, Becker.
A jury deliberated for 14 hours and requested that Higbee’s trial testimony be read back to them before reaching a verdict shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday.
Higbee was closing the gap between himself and a speeder on the night of Sept. 27, 2006 when he ran a stop sign at the intersection of Tuckahoe and Stagecoach roads and collided with a minivan containing the sisters. The girls were returning from a trip to Wawa for milk. Both were killed in the accident.
When we discussed this case before, there were two opposing takes on it, one in the Philadelphia Enquirer and the other on CNN. One said basically "these abusing cops have to be stopped," the other, "it was a tragic accident." The jury agreed with the second one.
The thing I noticed is the refreshing lack of vengeance-lust on the part of the victims' mother.
The girls’ mother, Maria Caiafa, spoke with Higbee shortly after the verdict was read. She would not say what they spoke about.
The community was more interested in whether Higbee was found guilty, she said.
“It means more to the public than me,” she said. “The worst thing that has happened to me is that my children are dead.”
Caiafa said she had wanted to see Higbee held accountable for his actions by going to trial. She didn’t question the jury’s decision but did say the state must reexamine its pursuit policies so something like this never happens again.
To Maria Caiafa and the rest of the family, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences. I have the utmost respect for the way she has responded to this unimaginable tragedy.
What's your opinion?