October 7, 2013

Luzerne County man arrested for fatal Mother's Day hit-and-run

HARRISBURG - Agents from the Attorney General's Office today arrested a Luzerne County man following an investigation into a fatal Mother's Day hit-and-run accident. 

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane identified the defendant as John "Jay" Kuniskas, 36, 1072 Westminster Road, Jenkins Township.

According to the criminal complaint, on May 12, 2013 Kuniskas was driving on Westminster Road in Jenkins Township, Luzerne County when he hit the victim while she was standing at her mailbox. Kuniskas allegedly did not stop following the accident and the victim?s body was later found lying in a yard near the road by a neighbor.

The charges state that between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on May 12 Kuniskas sent or received 51 phone calls or texts, which averages almost one per minute. Investigators found that between 4:30 and 4:50 - the time the victim was struck and killed - he made 31 calls or texts, which averages one every 39 seconds.

Additionally, investigators found that Kuniskas's truck sustained multiple dents on the top and side of the passenger-side hood, as well as the passenger-side mirror. The charges state that Kuniskas was seen following the accident attempting to remove dents from his truck with a hammer.

Kuniskas is charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, one count of homicide by vehicle, one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, one count of windshield obstruction, one count of careless driving, one count of prohibited text-based communications, one count of immediate notice of accident to a police department, and one count of reckless driving. 

He was preliminarily arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Carmody and bail was set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 16, 2013.

Attorney General Kane thanked Jenkins Township Police for their professionalism and cooperation in this matter. The case will be prosecuted in Luzerne County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Section.

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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