WILKES-BARRE — State Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson conceded Thursday that the vehicular homicide case against John Michael Kuniskas is circumstantial.
Kuniskas, 37, was charged by the state Office of Attorney General with leaving the scene after allegedly striking Jean Darsky, 65, on Westminster Road in Jenkins Township on May 12, 2013.
Darsky was struck after she got out of a friend’s vehicle in front of her house. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
State prosecutors allege Kuniskas was texting when he allegedly struck Darsky.
In court Thursday before Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr., Kuniskas’ attorney, Peter Paul Olszewski Jr., said prosecutors have absolutely no evidence linking his client to the fatal hit-and-run.
Olszewski is seeking to have the case dismissed based on lack of clear and convincing evidence.
“There is zero evidence to support the allegations of gross negligence based upon texting while driving,” Olszewski said. “(Prosecutors) have zero evidence that Mr. Kuniskas was even on Westminster Road at the time when (prosecutors) allege this happened. (Prosecutors) have zero evidence that Mr. Kuniskas was driving.”
Anderson disagreed, telling the judge that most of the circumstantial evidence, when pieced together, places Kuniskas on Westminster Drive at the time Darsky was killed.
“There is plenty of evidence the defendant was operating the truck and was on Westminster Road,” Anderson said, noting Kuniskas made statements to other people he was the driver of the truck that struck Darsky and had been drinking at a tavern in Plains Township.
Anderson said two pieces of a broken mirror were recovered at the scene that he said matched the broken passenger-side mirror on Kuniskas’ 2005 Ford F350 pickup truck.
Anderson further noted Kuniskas used his cellphone 31 times to make calls or texts between 4:30 to 4:50 p.m., when prosecutors believe Darsky was killed. During the 20 minutes, Anderson said, Kuniskas averaged one call or text every 39 seconds.
Olszewski was not swayed.
“(Anderson) is looking at fantasy to suggest what my client did,” Olszewski said.
Sklarosky said he will make a ruling on Olszewski’s request to dismiss the case at a later date.