WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Juvenile Court Judge William Amesbury on Friday placed Tyler Duda in the custody of a juvenile treatment facility in Danville for a July 5 high-speed crash that killed a Nanticoke man.
Duda, 17, was 16 when he was joy-riding in his mother’s Ford Edge and struck Nickolas Zurilla, dismembering the 59-year-old on West Union Street in Nanticoke.
A state police reconstruction of the crash reported Duda was driving in excess of 70 mph on a street posted for 25 mph.
Duda earlier this week admitted to homicide by vehicle and other charges. His case was transferred to juvenile court when Luzerne County Judge Lisa Gelb decertified adult charges on May 2.
Amesbury placed Duda at the North Central Secure Treatment Facility. While Duda can be held only until he turns 21, under state juvenile law Amesbury is required to review Duda’s treatment progress at least every six months to determine if he can be released from custody.
Amesbury said he did not want to wait that long, requesting a progress report in 60 days.
In court Friday, Duda in a statement read by his co-defense lawyer, Cheryl A. Sobeski-Reedy, apologized to Zurilla’s family stating he has not stopped thinking about the crash. Duda pledged to receive treatment and become a productive member of society in honor of Zurilla.
“He is at a point in his life now he can take what happened and learn from it,” Sobeski-Reedy said.
At the time of the crash, Duda was facing undisclosed and unrelated juvenile offenses.
“When this happened, Tyler was very remorseful,” Sobeski-Reedy said, noting Duda wanted to attend Zurilla’s funeral and call Zurilla’s family.
“He had to wait,” Sobeski-Reedy said.
Zurilla’s daughter, Kristy Place, wrote a statement that was read by Assistant District Attorney Mamie Phillips.
Place wrote she disagreed with Duda’s case being transferred to juvenile court, noting Duda “yawned” when pictures of Zurilla were shown during a previous court proceeding. Place said she was estranged from her father when he disagreed with her moving to Germany after she graduated from high school.
Place noted she made many attempts to reconcile with her father to introduce him to his granddaughter.
“Because of Tyler Duda, that will never happen,” Place wrote.
Amesbury said he chose North Central Secure as the treatment facility provides mental health and drug and alcohol counseling and educational and computer training. Amesbury noted drugs and alcohol did not play a role in the fatal crash, but there was evidence of substance abuse by Duda prior to July 5.
Duda was accused of taking his mother’s 2013 Ford Edge without her knowledge and was out joy riding with Donald Kinney Jr., in Nanticoke on the way to visit a female friend. Duda did not have a driver’s license at the time.
The girl was talking to Duda on a cellphone and heard Kinney tell Duda to “slow down.” Seconds later, the girl heard the crash, according to the criminal complaint.
Police said Zurilla was dismembered and was lodged in the windshield of the Ford that careened out of control for nearly 109 feet striking a parked vehicle and a front porch of a house on West Union Street.
Zurilla had been at a neighbor’s residence and walked across the street toward his house when he was struck.