Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino today announced an indictment was returned by an Essex County Grand Jury charging Richard M. Chesler, 18, of Millburn with first degree aggravated manslaughter for the death of Ari Vuotila, 40, of South Orange.
The three count indictment also charged Chesler with vehicular homicide, a first degree offense; and driving while intoxicated within 1,000 feet of a school, a second degree offense. Chesler, who was 17 years old at the time of the fatal crash, was charged as an adult.
The indictment alleges that on Jan. 27, 2009, at approximate 5:45 p.m. the Millburn teen was driving more than 50 mph in an area where the speed limit was 25 mph, when his Jeep Grand Cherokee collided with a Nissan driven by Vuotila. Following the crash, which occurred at the intersection of Long Hill Drive and Parsonage Hill Road, Vuotila was transported to the hospital and subsequently pronounced dead.
Chesler was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the crash. If convicted, Chesler faces 10 to 30 years in prison. Chesler was originally arrested and charged in January as a juvenile but the case was waived up to adult court.
Not withstanding the indictment, every defendant is presumed innocent unless he pleads guilty or is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.