OCEAN COUNY – The Manchester man convicted in the death of an Ocean Gate police officer will not get a new trial, appellate judges ruled this week.
Erick Uzcategui, 38, must serve at least 85 percent of his eight-year sentence, Superior Court Appellate Division Judges Harry G. Carroll, George S. Leone and Hany A. Mawla ruled. Uzcategui was convicted of vehicle homicide of police officer Jason Marles, who died in a fiery crash Nov. 25, 2010 when Uzcategui’s BMW crashed into Marles’ Jeep Grand Cherokee northbound on the Garden State Parkway in Toms River. The Jeep crashed into a guardrail, flipped, and erupted into flames, which instantly killed the officer.
Marles was 32. The father of two, a nine-year veteran of the Ocean Gate Police Department, was returning home from an overtime drunk driving parole that Thanksgiving day early morning.
Uzcategui was returning from a night of partying with friends in Seaside Heights. APP.com reported that he admitted to having four or five vodkas and some cocaine before the crash, but didn’t feel impaired and was the best of his friends to drive. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
Uzcategui was convicted after a six-day trial in 2014.
He challenged his conviction, one reason being the police didn’t have a warrant to draw his blood. The appellate judges rejected all his arguments, saying Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney sentence of eight years is not excessive, especially having prior DWI and cocaine possession convictions. He will serve his time at the Southern State Correctional Facility.
Uzcategui will be eligible for parole April 9, 2021.