CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Almost a year after a deadly crash in Cumberland County, a drunken and drugged driver has now admitted his guilt as a family continues to grieve.
Antonio Speranza crashed his truck into a motorcycle at Spring Lake on January 18, 1999. The driver of the motorcycle, Danny Deavers, died on impact.
Speranza allegedly stole two beers from a convenience store just minutes before the wreck. Speranza's attorneys say he was on the drug Clonapin, which has similar effects as valium.
Speranza knows the system. He has been convicted three other times on DWI charges. Rather than face a jury, he admitted his guilt.
Second degree murder is only one of 14 charges he pleaded guilty to.
"Driving while impaired, five counts of driving while license revoked, one count of obtaining controlled substances by forgery, one count of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by forgery, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny," said Elaine Kelley, a prosecutor.
Speranza's attorneys suggested the guilty pleas because the judge said his long DWI record could be used as evidence in court.
"He feels like this was the best way to handle it rather than to put the state and particularly Mr. Deaver's family through a trial," said Carl Barrington, Speranza's attorney.
Wednesday's admissions tack on two more convictions, bringing the total to five DWIs. He is now facing a maximum sentence range of 12 to 25 years.
Deaver's friends say if Speranza gets out, he will drive under the influence again.
"Would you want your child out there for him to hit and kill? Not me." said Ralph Dorn, a friend of Deavers. "I don't want my wife out there. I don't want my friends out there.
"I don't want anyone out there as long as anybody like him is on the road," Dorn said. "He needs to be put away for life."
Speranza's sentencing is scheduled for Friday.