SPARTA, NJ – The continuation of the municipal court case against Catherine Giaquinto featured the defendant’s side of the story for the first time.
Giaquinto was stopped by township police in the early hours of Jan. 18 after a Lake Mohawk resident reported a car pulled into his driveway then pulled out and struck his stone wall.
When confronted by then-Patrolman Joseph Pensado, Giaquinto and her car smelled of alcohol, and she appeared to be wearing nothing but a leather jacket, unzipped.
Tales of “the naked DWI” went viral, however, Giaquinto told the court she was wearing a camisole and bra under the jacket.
She also said she was wearing a pants suit over the camisole when she left a Sparta restaurant with an acquaintance and visited the woman’s home to meet her Labrador retriever.
The pants suit was not in the car when she was pulled over. She said it was returned to her later with her purse and other items at the end of her driveway in Warwick, N.Y.
Defense attorney George Daggett entered a red dress into evidence. Giaquinto said she kept the dress hanging in her car in case she needed to change after work. Her job with the Higher Gear Group entailed sales and servicing of software used by car dealerships and she did a lot of driving around the area. She also kept a pair of flat shoes in the car to change out of her work heels, she told Municipal Court Judge John Milhern.
All that became unnecessary, however, when she lost her job.
“I was trending on Yahoo,” she said of the video of her arrest. “I was one of the top five stories for a day and a half. When my employer found out I was fired.”
She said she is now living in Washingtonville, N.Y.
After firing her, her employer remotely deleted her work phone and iPad, she said. This removed text messages from the acquaintance, said claimed.
Giaquinto said she worked at one car dealership until 7:15 p.m., then met a woman named Maggie, who worked at another dealership she serviced, at Casa Bellisima. She said she had two dirty vodka martinis. She and Maggie talked about their dogs, and Maggie invited Giaquinto back to her Lake Mohawk home to meet her Labrador.
“I was playing with the dog when she handed me a glass of wine. I took one sip,” Giaquinto said.
She said the wine tasted funny and she does not remember anything except flashes until the next day. She said she remembered someone kissing her and touching her private parts, but not any sequence.
The significance of the deleted phone and iPad records is twofold, Giaquinto said. She said Maggie sent her a text message a couple of weeks prior to the incident referring to an affair she was having. Apparently, Giaqunto said, Maggie did not realize the text want to several phone numbers. She told Maggie it was "none of her business," and she would ignore the text. Some time later, Maggie suggested getting together for dinner, which led to the Jan. 17 dinner at Casa Bellisima.
The second significance of the deleted iPad, she said, was that photos she took of scratches on her legs were deleted.
Giaquinto said she is not in the habit of socializing with work acquaintances.
After her testimony, Daggett called an expert witness, Gary Lage, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology, and is recognized as an expert in pharmacology and toxicology.
Lage said because of the bizarre nature of Giaquinto’s stop, her state of undress, the scratches on her legs, her inability to remember, she should have been taken to a medical facility, not the Sparta Police.
He said the most consistent explanation for what happened is that Giaquinto was slipped a “date-rape” drug. He said the most common are GHP and Rohipnol (Roofies). He said her actions seems most consistent with Rohipnol. “But she should have been evaluated by a trained medical person.”
Lage said he suspects Rohipnol because it blocks memories from going from the short-term memory center of the brain to the hippocampus. That is consistent with the fact Giaquinto said she remembers only flashes of what happened after she took the sip of wine.
After Lage’s testimony, Daggett rested his case.
He told the judge he will present a written and documented closing argument. Prosecutor Jonathan McMeen will present his closing argument when the trial resumes on Monday, July 15.
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