Margate attorney pens book about controversial Higbee trial

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Attorney and author D. William Subin and his wife, Petra “Petie” Subin, join investigator Manford Ridgeway at a book signing Friday, Aug. 24 at Ozzie’s Luncheonette in Longport. Attorney and author D. William Subin and his wife, Petra “Petie” Subin, join investigator Manford Ridgeway at a book signing Friday, Aug. 24 at Ozzie’s Luncheonette in Longport. LONGPORT – Longtime attorney D. William “Bill” Subin of Margate spent three years writing a book about his successful defense of a New Jersey state trooper who Subin said should have never been criminally charged with causing the death of two teenage sisters.

Subin, who self-published his memoir, “Closing the Gap: The Trial of Trooper Robert Higbee” in October 2013, greeted customers and supporters Friday, Aug. 24 at Ozzie’s Luncheonette, where Longport Media was broadcasting the day’s edition of Barbara Altman’s Front Porch radio show.

“Not a day goes by that Trooper Higbee doesn’t feel for their loss. He has two daughters too,” Subin said.

Higbee was driving his police cruiser in Upper Township when he spotted a speeder driving in the opposite direction at 65 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone. Higbee made a U-turn in pursuit without his flashing lights or siren on, which Subin said is proper police procedure. Higbee went through a stop sign and slammed into a minivan being driven by Jacqueline Becker, 17, killing her and her sister, Christina, 19.

“In a split second, he hit the brakes and did the best he could to stop, but there was a mistake in perception,” Subin said. “It was a tragic accident, but it was not criminal or reckless.”

Higbee was indicted on charges of vehicular homicide and acquitted in a jury trial.

According to Manford Ridgeway of MR Investigations of Ocean City, who assisted Subin during the trial, the title of the book comes from a police procedure in which police in pursuit of a vehicle attempt to “close the gap” between the suspect and the cruiser, close enough to see the license plate number and get a full description.

“You only turn on your overhead lights after closing the gap,” Ridgeway said.

Subin said he is unsure if the family of the teenagers have read the book, but he has seen the girls’ grandfather.

“He is still heartbroken, of course. I wrote the book because I want the public to realize that putting Trooper Higbee and the girls’ family through an ordeal to relive the agony was the wrong thing to do,” Subin said. “Having a trial made it worse for the family and delayed closure.”

Subin said he was successful in proving there was no criminal intent partly because circumstances that existed at the time of the accident were corrected.

The intersection was inadequately lighted, and had a smaller stop sign that was not visible to Higbee during the chase, according to Ridgeway.

Ridgeway said his research indicated that township officials had requested a traffic light at the intersection on two separate occasions before the accident. Shortly after the accident, a larger stop sign and a blinking light were installed.

Chief Atlantic County Sheriff’s Officer Keith Fane stopped by Ozzie’s because he heard Subin would be there.

“I was working for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Fatal Accident Unit when the accident happened. We followed it closely,” Fane said. “I’ve been wanting to get the book and talked to Bill about it several times. I’m delighted with the outcome,” Fane said.

The book is available for $19.95 in local bookstores including Paper Chase Gifts in Margate, Sun Rose Words and Music in Ocean City, on Amazon.com, or by calling publisher Rob Hubermand of of ComteQ Publishing in Margate at 609-487-9000.

Subin’s next book signing will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 at Romanelli’s Garden Café, 279 S. New York Ave. (Route 9) in Galloway Township.


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