Andrew Gay Jr.: Sort-of/sort-of-not the worst-person-on-earth today *with an added correction. Sorry.*

*When I transcribed my notebook, during the part about what bar Nick Hasselback went to before hitting-and-running Tony Foltz, I called it the Pour House, not the accurate Public House. Most locals probably caught that. But, I’m compelled to offer a comparison just to be clear for non-locals:
The Pour House is the kind of place that has a decent number of TVs, good dudes like Shane behind the bar, all-you-can-eat crabs for $29.50 Wednesdays and 3/4-sleeve shirts for sale that read, “Drink Like a Champion Today.”

The Public House is the kind of place that just sat back and let Arthur Kade walk a fashion runway.

To anybody out there who hasn’t hit someone with their car and, after joking about it with potentially drug-addled associates, scurrying back to mother’s bosom, I regret that error from the bottom of my soul .

First things first: Here’s an excellent picture of Philadelphia hit-and-run extraordinaire Nick Hasselback from the Daily News’ website today …

Here Nicky, Nicky, Nicky

Here Nicky, Nicky, Nicky

Totally better than the camera-phone pic I snapped at his last hearing, so props, Alejandro A. Alvarez, for making Nicky duck and weave as he left the courthouse with the knowledge that he’s facing a hardcore felony, and that the friend who was in the car with him when he mowed Tony Foltz down realizes that there’s a right and wrong way to live one’s life, and that the right way is manning up — even if you’re a wee lad of 5’8″, 150 pounds soaking sweat-wet — and taking responsibility for your actions.

Let’s get the title out of the way first: attorney Andrew Gay Jr. could’ve shed the “Worst on Earth” label if he didn’t try to dismiss his client’s actions under a “his friend was trippin’ balls” defense. My quotes, not his. His, paraphrased, would be “Dude may have seen Nick with a beer two or three times at the bar before he almost killed a pedestrian, but he didn’t know if they were different beers.”

Lawyering, I know. But if you’re a decent human being, you yearn for appropriate justice regardless of who cuts your checks.

So anyway, this is going to be a note-dumping exercise. Let me be perfectly clear: I wasn’t at court as a reporter. I was there as a hit-and-run victim who saw a 25-year-old go through what I’d been through. People fought for me. So, I’m going to fight for Tony Foltz. Here’s what I saw:

It was case #24, but was called first.

Foltz’s brother, sisters and supporters sitting in the 2nd row. Hasselback’s parents and (I think) sisters sitting in the 3rd. No interaction between them throughout.

Only witness: Hasselback’s friend Michael J. Graber Jr., who was the passenger on the way to the PUBLIC House at 10 p.m.-ish and on the way back to East Falls after 2 a.m. There was a birthday celebration there that night. He parked within a block of the place. They took Cherry to 20th, 20th to the Parkway (at the Franklin Institute) and then headed toward Kelly Drive.

Graber’s stocky, in a shirt and tie, shaved head. Two other roommates were there as well.

He confirmed Nick was driving. Looked about a quarter mile ahead and saw about 10 people crossing the street ahead of them in the distance.

“I tried to warn Nick. ‘There’s fucking people there. Slow down!’ He just told me not to tell him how to drive. Just waved me off.” Graber says he reached over and honked the horn to warn the pedestrians. “Nothing else I could do. If I tried to grab the wheel, we could have hit other people.”

The horn didn’t work.

He says Hasselback was driving “at least 50” miles per hour. At the last second, he swerved to avoid hitting two women (crossing toward Center City) and hit Foltz.

“Kept telling him to stop, pull over.”

He didn’t.

“A whole bunch of glass got on me. Wasn’t like shards, like glitter all over me pretty much.”

Hasselback drove off the Parkway onto Pennsylvania Ave., back towards Whole Foods past the police station, onto Callowhill. (Sorry for those of you not from Philly, but the geography’s a telling sign.)

Graber got out when they approached Spring Garden. Nick “really wasn’t saying anything. Shock.”

Defense attorney objecting to a lot of the questioning post collision saying it’s irrelevant. Judge agrees with more than he doesn’t.

When Graber said they should stop at the scene and check it out, “He said, ‘We can’t.’”

Graber got out, went back to the scene. Called Nick’s roommate to bring him back to East Falls. He was there 30-45 mins later. Nick was too and asked if the guy was alright. Asked if knew whether he was hurt. He said he “thought he walked in front of the car. I told him that wasn’t the case. That I saw people from far away. That he was wrong.”

Defense attorney Gay then starts. Establishes that they arrived at PUBLIC House together, that he didn’t think he was drunk beforehand. Didn’t smell booze. (Alcohol a factor in whether judge upholds the Felony 1 agg assault charge.)

Says he had 2-3 beers. Says the 2-3 times he saw Nick, he had a beer in hand. “No idea if it was the same beer.”

Then, he admits that he was on “shrooms. … Hard to describe” the effects. A lawyer sidebar establishes he can’t be charged for admitting that.

Took them at least four hours before collision. Still influenced, though. Wasn’t looking at the speedometer. Vehicle didn’t brake before impact. “Swerved to avoid the two people in the street.” They were close in proximity to Tony. They were in crosswalk; Tony wasn’t.

Key exchange:
O’Brien: Know how he normally drives?
Graber: He drives, you know, pretty fast. He keeps the RPMs up. … It felt like hitting a big log, like a rock or something.”

Tony’s medical evidence then put into the record. Double craniotomy because of swollen brain. Flaps still out; they’ll be put in later date. (Mine were taken out Nov. 29, 2008 and put back in on April 22, 2009.) Arm and elbow, right leg hurt.

Gay doesn’t object to the “severe bodily injury” aspect. Just the malice/intentional aspect of the F-1 charge. Cases are cited on that issue. O’Brien argues there was a disregard for human life: “Sped, disregarded warnings and subsequently hit Tony Foltz. He disregarded not one, not two, but three warnings from a passenger. … There but for the grace of God someone called 911 quickly, and got him to Hahnemann quickly. That’s why TF is still with us.” (Again, similar to my still-unsolved case).

Nick’s dad has his head in his hands briefly during that comment, but for the most part, they were stoic and quietly observing. Both sides. Nick stands briefly but Gay pats him on the back to sit down.

Graber walks downstairs with Nick. A couple other friends there. They don’t stop for photogs In fact, Graber doesn’t go out toward the cameras with him.

So, that was the hearing. I’ll just recount another aspect: Two dudes sitting behind me at the hearing offered some commentary along the way. They were laughing when the fact that Graber was shrooming was mentioned. Called him out for ratting on his friend. But then, they made the point that I’ll close with: When Gay questioned whether the felony aggravated assault was warranted (because drunkenness wasn’t proved), one said something to the effect that, There’s no fucking question he should face those charges because he hit Foltz and he took off, not knowing whether he’d be dead, that he’s lucky the victim survived.

Their laughter kind of pissed me off. Their vehement stance that the driver should do time showed me that even people there with criminal charges hanging over them know the difference between right and wrong. Doesn’t seem to me that Gay and/or Hasselback do.

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