STATEN ISLAND, NY – About two years ago, Advance / SILive.com reported that a state council had denied Nicholas Marchese parole for the second time.
Now 31 Marchese is serve a sentence from five and two-thirds to 17 years in prison for an accident at Greenridge in which two of its passengers were killed more than ten years ago.
Drunk and tall, Marchese smashed a car into an electric pole on Arthur Kill Road on August 29, 2010.
The impact killed Jeffrey Capretta, 20, of Woodrow, and Daniel Peluso, 19, of Great Kills, and seriously injured four other people in the car, including Marchese.
In response to the story, Marchese sent two letters to a journalist, one of which was addressed to the victims, their families and friends.
The Grasmere resident expressed remorse over the episode and the loss and pain it had inflicted.
He also said he felt it was time for him to “come forward and stand up for me”.
Marchese recently secured a follow-up hearing based on a successful administrative appeal from his parole refusal in July 2019. He appeared before another group of parole board members.
Once again he was rejected.
In its decision, council raised concerns about Marchese’s previous alcohol and drug use and maintained that his release at this time “is incompatible with the well-being of society”.
During the interview, Marchese was asked about the letter he sent to the journalist.
A commissioner wanted to know why Marchese contacted the newspaper before writing letters of apology to the victims and their families (which he did later).
Wouldn’t that have added to their pain, asked the commissioner.
“I didn’t think I was creating evil. … I thought that might be the best way for people to see how I really felt about the situation, ”Marchese said, according to a transcript of his interview. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was okay with that, because I am not. There were many nights I fell asleep crying. I killed one of my best friends.
The commissioner did not seem impressed with the response.
“So listen to what you said here. Because it basically reflects how you feel, your impact and how you feel better, ”said the Commissioner. “It does not say how to repair the harm done to the victims. This action is to fix what you are feeling, isn’t it?
Marchese acknowledged the point but said there was more to it.
“It’s about me, but it’s also about letting families know that I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to think that – that I’m okay with that. … I had no intention of going out that night and hurting anyone, you know.
His answer did not influence the panel.
In denying parole, the commission cited Marchese’s “medium risk” of criminal violence if released now.
The panel also said it was very likely that he would fall prey to drug addiction outside of prison.
Marchese was cited for drug use while incarcerated.
“Take this time to gain insight into your drug and alcohol search actions and behaviors that led to the tragic outcome of the Snapshot Offenses,” the council wrote.
The council also asked Marchese to stay in touch with his important support network of family and friends to facilitate his transition to the community when he is released.
During the defendant’s 2012 conviction, Assistant District Attorney Mark Palladino said Marchese was soaring along the notoriously twisty Arthur Kill Road at over 60 mph.
He ignored the “many calls” from his five passengers to slow down and swerved into oncoming traffic, nearly colliding with a car carrying five young women, Palladino said.
The Altima he was driving crashed into a utility pole near Annadale Road, tearing the car in two.
Several occupants were thrown from the vehicle and the carnage that followed left the police initially uncertain who was behind the wheel.
At some point during the night before the wreckage, Peluso is believed to realize he was too drunk to drive and gave Marchese his keys, prosecutors said. The car belonged to one of Peluso’s female relatives, prosecutors said.
Marchese – who had two and a half times the legal alcohol limit in his system after the crash, at 0.20% – initially did not admit to driving, prosecutors said.
But witness statements and scientific evidence ultimately put him behind the wheel.
In January 2012, Marchese pleaded guilty in the State Supreme Court in St. George to two counts of aggravated vehicle homicide, the main charge against him. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault.
During the interview with the parole board, Marchese admitted to being addicted to drugs and alcohol when he crashed. He and his friends had gone to a bar to celebrate a birthday.
Marchese said he sniffed “maybe three or four” lines of cocaine, smoked a joint with his friends, and drank several beers and “about three” Long Island iced teas.
Marchese told council he had “occasionally” smoked marijuana and used cocaine before the incident.
He said he “didn’t realize” that he had an addiction problem beforehand. He also said his drug use “got out of hand” after the sinking.
“The thought of my actions killing two people, you know, it felt like I was trying to escape the reality of what I actually did,” he said.
“I hurt a lot of people behind this,” Marchese said. “And I did not realize my actions at the time of the accident and after the accident, how many people I actually touched behind this accident.”
When asked how he ended up driving the car, Marchese said he and his friends “agreed” that he would drive.
“I took the keys and got behind the wheel,” he said. “… And no one disagreed with that.”
Marchese said he was neither tall nor drunk when he and his friends went to the bar. He continued to drive after he and his friends left the tavern.
CAN RESPOND IN JULY
In its decision, the committee praised Marchese for his “personal growth, programmatic accomplishments, and productive use of time” while incarcerated.
The board also acknowledged that his recent behavior had improved.
However, the board was troubled by the fact that Marchese was removed from some prison programs for disciplinary reasons, mainly towards the start of his sentence.
“After weighing and taking into account all the factors in the case, the committee concludes that a release at this stage is not appropriate,” said the board.
Even so, the door is not closed on Marchese.
He can reapply for parole in July.