Wednesday, June 10, 2009

N.J. State Trooper Higbee Found Not Guilty

The Shore News Today reports on the not guilty verdict in the trial of New Jersey State Trooper Higbee.

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?


  1. I agree its the cops attitude in the states to chase everyone down for the smallest traffic infraction. They seem to get off on pursuing people and the media only fuels it by televising high speed chases on TV. This tradegy may have been avoided if the State of New Jersey had a mass rail network so the two girls could have taken a train to their desination instead of driving in a car at night.

  2. I think the trooper should have been found guilty of the 2 murder's because he wasn't paying attention to the road and then ran a stop sign if that would have been me that ran the stop sign and hit someone and killed them I would have been thrown in jail and convicted of the murder's but since it was a cop they let him off the hook and I don't think that was the right thing to do because that will only show other trooper's that its okay to run a stop sign.

  3. I actually felt compassion for the cop, I don't usually, but something made my feel sympathetic. But, I think you guys are right. He got away with murder, so to speak.

  4. I don't believe that the cop should have been found guilty. He was being charged in a criminal case, so if he was found guilty he would be doing five years, not guilty would then be nothing. I do believe he is responsible for the deaths of the girls, but he does not deserve the sentenced time. If the punishment was different I believe that the jury would have found him guilty. I felt bad for the cop and the family of the victims. This was an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided. There is a difference between intentionally being recklass and making a mistake. I don't believe that Higbee was being intentionally recklass, but just trying to do his job. The key here was that it was a mistake, you could see the remorse in Higbee and the regret in his voice. Not to be insensitive to the family, but I thought it was interesting that the defense did not bring up the fact that one of the girls was not wearing her seatbelt, and that led to the death of the girls. Higbee still caused the crash, but maybe not the deaths. It was a tough case, but I do believe Higbee does not deserve the sentence that could have been given.

  5. He caused deaths and civil trial found him guilty of causing death . He was however not guilty of murder and is not a murderer . the prsoecutor should have charged manslaughter but was overzealous . it was a waste of taxapayer $. even the township retrofitted traffic control devices knowing that they were flawed .