Prosecutors: Lower man was texting before fatal crash

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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Cape May County prosecutors want to show that the man charged in the death of two teenage girls on Bayshore Road in 2012 had a habit of texting and driving.

The prosecution against Joshua Malmgren has made a motion to include evidence about his alleged texting and driving in the trial, which is set to begin June 2. Malmgren made a short court appearance on Thursday, Feb. 27 for scheduling.

The 32-year-old Lower Township man is charged with two counts of aggravated manslaughter in connection to a July 31, 2012 car accident that killed two cousins, Nioami Lazicki, 15, of Middle Township, and Ashley Dauber, 13, of Philadelphia, who had been walking along Bayshore Road.

In September, the prosecution motioned to include previous incidents of intoxicated driving as well, and alleged that Malmgren was under the influence the night of the accident.

Cape May County First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson said that his office made a motion in December to include as evidence a traffic stop Malmgren was involved in two days before the accident. The prosecution claims that off-duty Middle Township police officer saw Malmgren texting and driving, called in the incident, and Malmgren was stopped by police and given a warning.

Johnson said there is also video from a Wawa security camera that captured Malmgren texting in his car the night of the accident, and phone records that show Malmgren sent about seven text messages between his stop at the Wawa and the accident.

In court Thursday, Malmgren’s new attorney, Ed Weinstock of Weinstock and Associates in Northfield, said he was unaware of the motion and not ready to make a response to it.

Weinstock is a private pool attorney for the public defender’s office and said that the case was recently passed off to him. Previously, Malmgren was represented by H. Parker Smith and Brian Pelloni. Pelloni reportedly had asked to be taken off the case for nonpayment.

It was not immediately clear Thursday as to why Smith was no longer representing Malmgren.

Weinstock had also asked the court to delay the start of the trial because he still had to go through discovery, or evidence in the case.

Cape May County Superior Judge John Porto, however, said he was not inclined to delay the trial because he expects it to be lengthy. He said Thursday that he had cleared the entire month of June for the trial, and said that there will need to be an expanded jury pool and lengthened jury selection process due to the case’s publicity.

So far, there have been several motion hearings in the case. Porto had declined a defense motion that the case be dismissed, as well as a motion to change the trial venue.

On Thursday, attorneys agreed to hold a motion status conference 1:30 p.m. March 18 with Porto, on the record. They also scheduled time to meet again 11:30 a.m. March 21, should the time be needed.

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