Michael Sot: Petition says man charged in TCNJ student's death should be jailed

Suzanne Russell
Bridgewater Courier News
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CLARK – Michael T. Sot chose to serve as the designated driver to safely return his friends to The College of New Jersey in Ewing after attending a party.

But on the drive back to campus along Pennington Road, a West Windsor man traveling south on the roadway allegedly crossed the center line and collided head-on with a 2007 Dodge Charger driven by Sot and occupied by five other TCNJ students.

Sot, 20, died from injuries in the 2 a.m. Dec. 2, 2018, crash, and his five passengers and a passenger in the other vehicle were injured.

Michael T. Sot

David Lamar, the driver of the other vehicle, a 2018 Kia Optima, was charged with aggravated manslaughter, death by auto and six counts of assault by auto for allegedly recklessly causing Sot's death. Lamar allegedly disregarded  the speed limit and was driving while intoxicated when he crossed the center line.

During his detention hearing last year, prosecutors said Lamar's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving.

Recently, Lamar was released from house arrest, and Sot's mother, Candice Buno-Sot, can't understand why.

"It's just wrong on so many levels," she said. "So many people were hurt and affected by this."

A online petition at Avaaz.org called "Lock Up David Lamar" was created Tuesday by Vincent Crisafi, one of Michael T. Sot's best friends, seeks to have Lamar put in jail. The petition, directed at the state Superior Court in Mercer County, had generated more than 4,000 signatures of the 5,000 sought.

READ:Michael Sot Jr. honored with second HERO Campaign billboard in his loving memory

Casey DeBlasio, spokesperson for the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, said the case is currently under indictment and pending trial.  A trial date has not yet been set.

David Lamar V

DeBlasio said at the time of Lamar’s arrest, the prosecutor’s office filed a motion to have him detained pending trial. A detention hearing was held Dec. 11, 2018, and a judge ordered Lamar released from jail with the following conditions: home detention with electronic monitoring, remote Breathalyzer tests four times a day and  surrender of driver’s license.

In July Superior Court Judge Timothy Lydon modified those conditions and removed home detention with electronic monitoring, DeBlasio said, adding the other conditions remain the same.

The Prosecutor's Office is challenging that order and has filed a motion to reconsider. A date for the reconsideration motion has not yet been set, DeBlasio said. Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Grillo is handling the case.

"We did not want him (Lamar) out. My son is dead, five other people were hurt. He has showed no remorse," Buno-Sot said. 

"He's no longer on house arrest, and no one from the court informed any of us that he is no longer on house arrest," she added. "Why was that even an option that he would be free of house arrest?"

DeBlasio said she understands the family was not notified of the modified condition.

READ: State legislature honors memory of Michael Sot with joint resolution

"This is insane. It's just insane," Buno-Sot said. "My son succumbed to his injuries because the guy hit him head-on going 82 mph, crossing a double yellow line. And five other people in the vehicle their lives were affected forever."

Buno-Sot said Lamar is the complete opposite of her late son.

Michael Sot, flanked by his parents, Candice and Michael Sr., during the Arthur L. Johnson Regional High School baseball program's 2017 Senior Day

"My son contributed to society, he was a great student, very cordial, respectful and I don't have him anymore," Buno-Sot said.

Sot graduated from Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark where he was a star baseball player and a member of the National Honor Society. He was a sophomore at TCNJ where he was majoring in math with the hope of becoming an actuary. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi national fraternity.  

"And this guy (Lamar) has shown no remorse. All he's worried about is his watch, his car. He raced down Pennington Road and hit my son head-on at 82 mph in a 35-mph zone. Does this make sense?" Buno-Sot said.

She says Lamar seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt while no one is considering what the victim's family is going through.

"I don't think this is right. Why is this guy getting so many breaks," Buno-Sot said, adding there also have been many delays in the case. "It's been over 18 months." 

Buno-Sot said her son's life had meaning.

"Michael was being responsible. For his brothers he decided not to drink and drive that night and be the designated driver so he could get them home safely. And then this guy, he just selfishly got in the car and didn't care about anybody else and did what he did," she said.

Billboard erected in loving memory of Michael Sot Jr. along Route 35 in Wall Township

A billboard featuring Michael T. Sot as a hero for being a designated driver is posted on Route 78, his mother said.

"What he did was a great thing," Buno-Sot said.

Email: srussell@gannettnj.com 

Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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