MORRISTOWN NJ– A Clifton mother of two, who is charged with driving while intoxicated and killing a father of two on Route 80 in Montville Friday night, was released Monday from the Morris County Jail on the condition she drive only to work and to her autistic son’s school.
Some 25 grieving relatives and friends of crash victim Ismail Iqbal, 32, of the Somerset section of Franklin Township in Somerset County, were in Superior Court, Morristown, for a hearing on whether defendant Michelle Perez, 42, of Clifton would be released from the Morris County Jail or detained pretrial.
“He was the backbone of the family. He touched thousands of hearts,” said Iqbal’s aunt, Huma Aslam, after the hearing before Judge Paul Armstrong.
Aslam said that Iqbal was married and had two young daughters, both younger than 6, and that his mother hasn’t slept since she heard that her son was killed.
Relatives said that Iqbal was the proud proprietor of several dollar or discount stores in Jersey City and Paterson. Iqbal, who was thrown from his 2013 Suzuki Burgman motor scooter – a gas-powered vehicle similar to a motorcycle – had been fasting along with family members over the Ramadan religious holiday, his sister said.
“I just want to say pray for my brother. Everyone in America, please pray for my brother who passed away,” said a man who identified himself as Iqbal’s brother.
State Police have said that the driver of a Nissan Rogue, identified as Michelle Perez, was intoxicated when her westbound vehicle struck Iqbal’s motorbike as he also traveled west on Route 80 in Montville Friday night around 6:52 p.m.
Iqbal was transported to St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville where he was pronounced dead. Perez was charged with driving while intoxicated and death-by-auto early Saturday and held in the Morris County Jail.
With members of the victim’s large extended family in the courtroom, Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Troiano told l Armstrong that his office would not seek to detain Perez while the charges are pending.
The judge ordered Perez’s release from the jail on condition she undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendations, report as ordered to pretrial service workers, and drive only to work and to a school where she said her 12-year-old autistic son recently began living.
Perez appeared for the hearing via a closed-circuit television link between the courtroom and county jail.
Under the state’s new criminal justice reform mandates that took effect Jan. 1, monetary bail is no longer used. Instead a public safety assessment based upon an algorithm is conducted and produces a score that represents the likelihood that a defendant who is released before trial will commit a new crime or will fail to appear for a future court appearance.
Perez – who has no prior criminal record and has not previously been convicted of drunken driving – had a score that showed she was a good candidate for pretrial release.
Released for free (on tax payers dollars) without any accountability or supervision thanks to NJ Bail Reform.
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