Unsecured bail OK’d in vehicular homicide case

June 18th, 2015 4:04 pm

First Posted: 2/18/2014

WILKES-BARRE — The teenage suspect in a crash that killed a Nanticoke man last summer was granted unsecured bail on Tuesday, with a hearing scheduled on whether to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Tyler Duda was 16 at the time of the July 5 incident that left Nicholas Zurilla, 59, dead after he was struck by an SUV outside his home at 340 W. Union St.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis has said Duda, of Kingston Township, took his mother’s 2013 Ford Edge without her knowledge and was out joy riding with Donald Kinney Jr., 16, in Nanticoke on the way to visit a female friend.

Duda was arraigned in September by District Judge Donald Whittaker on charges of homicide by vehicle, third-degree murder, accidents involving death, driving without a license, speeding, reckless driving and failing to stay in lane.

Duda has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Duda, now 17, originally was held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb on Tuesday set unsecured bail, releasing Duda to juvenile probation. He was to be held on an unrelated juvenile detainer, according to court records.

The girl whom Duda and Kinney were en route to visit told police about a phone call she said she had with Duda while he was driving that night.

While talking to Duda, the girl told police, she heard Kinney tell Duda to “slow down,” and then heard the crash that sent Zurilla through the Ford’s windshield and knocked Kinney unconscious.

A state police reconstruction of the crash alleges Duda was traveling in excess of 70 mph when he struck Zurilla, arrest papers say. The speed limit on West Union Street is 25 mph.

Zurilla had been sitting on the porch of his neighbor, Paul Murphy, at 341 W. Union St. As Murphy was about to enter his house, Zurilla was crossing the street and said in a loud voice, “This car is going to hit me,” according to arrest papers.

Murphy turned around and “had seen a car, and a body in front of it going directly upward and to the left,” arrest papers say.

Judge Gelb also set an April 14 hearing date on whether the case against Duda can be transferred to juvenile court.

Court documents list Duda’s legal team as First Assistant Public Defender Demetrius Fannick and Assistant Public Defender Cheryl Sobeski-Reedy.