Law & Justice

Hawthorne Resident James Woetzel Sentenced for Manslaughter of Donna Wine

Credits: Prosecutor Carmelia M. Valdes

Paterson – Hawthorne resident James Woetzel, 51, was sentenced to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes announced. 

On August 10, 2014, Woetzel shocked the borough of Hawthorne, a day locals will long recall with heartbroken amazement. At about 2:12 p.m. while under the influence of difluoroethane, a chemical commonly found in compressed air cans such as those used to clean computer keyboards, Woetzel drove his new Dodge Ram pickup through the traffic barricades which closed off the Farmers Market on Grand Avenue.

Woetzel’s truck plowed through the Farmers Market as half a dozen stands were overturned, produce was smashed and scattered down Grand Avenue, two women suffered injuries for which they were hospitalized, and one life was tragically taken. 

Sign Up for E-News

Fellow Hawthorne resident Donna Wine, 58, was at a vegetable stand when she was struck by the truck and pulled under, dragged just over three-tenths of a mile north on Grand Avenue, past Warburton, to where Legion Place meets Lafayette Avenue before another motorist successfully flagged Woetzel down. Wine, who resided not far from Woetzel on Diamond Bridge Avenue, was a mother of two and had worked as a hair stylist. 

Woetzel was taken into custody and Wine was pronounced dead at the scene.

At his trial, Woetzel was represented by attorneys Leigh Saltiel and Jeremy Richmond.  The prosecution was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess and Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Bollenbach.  During the trial, Dr. Robert Pandina, a psycho-pharmacologist, testified that Woetzel exhibited signs of difluorethane influence and had been in a blackout when he drove his truck through the barricades, destroyed the Farmers Market, struck Wine, and continued driving.

Following a little over a day of deliberations, on September 14, 2017, the jury found Woetzel guilty on the charges of “first degree aggravated manslaughter”, second degree “death by auto”, and first degree “death by auto within 1,000 feet of a school”. 

Woetzel was found not guilty of a second degree offense, “knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death”.

Judge Joseph A. Portelli sentenced Woetzel to twenty years in New Jersey State Prison for aggravated manslaughter.  Eighty-five percent of the prison term is to be served before Woetzel’s parole, in accordance with the No Early Release Act, and thereafter will serve five years of parole supervision.  The aggravated manslaughter sentencing was ordered to run concurrently with the conviction of first degree death by auto. 

In addition, Judge Portelli revoked Woetzel’s driving privileges for twenty years, beginning the day of his release.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Fair Lawn/Glen Rock

Fair Lawn Police Blotter - May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018


Fraud:  Fair Lawn Police received a report on 5/2/18 from a resident of Albert Avenue that his unlocked vehicle had been entered overnight and that his wallet had been taken. Det. Mark Wyka took over the investigation and arrested Lestor Babb, age 57 of Paterson, on 5/11/18 after identifying him from videos of Babb using credit cards from the stolen wallet.  Babb ...

Enjoy Your Meal Out So Others May Enjoy Their Meal In

May 25, 2018

This year, Community Meals, Inc. is holding its 9th Annual Meals that Matter Fundraiser.

On Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 14, the following restaurants have agreed to donate a portion of their day’s receipts to CMI:

June 6: 

Allendale Bar & Grill

Andrea’s Ristorante Italiano – Waldwick

The Glen Rock ...

The Forum School Recognized for Its Work with Students with Autism

Waldwick, NJ– The Forum School, a private, not-for-profit school serving students with autism and related challenges in Waldwick NJ, has been recognized as a community member that supports local students with disabilities through its programs. 

Atlantic Stewardship Bank, the only bank in America that tithes its own profits and gives back to the community, has generously awarded ...

Red Cross Calls for Summer Blood Donations to Prevent a Shortage – May 21-June 15


BERGEN COUNTY, NJ— The American Red Cross is counting on volunteer donors to give blood and help ensure patient needs can be met this summer.

Around Memorial Day, the Red Cross sees a steep decline in blood donations. Busy summer schedules, vacations and school breaks also cause a drop in donations. Accidents and medical emergencies don’t take a summer ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, June 3, 3:00 PM

Glen Rock High School Auditorium, Glen Rock

Glen Rock Pops Spring Concert

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, June 13, 4:30 PM

Van Dyk Health Care at Park, Hawthorne

Visiting the Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

Health & Wellness


Sat, June 16, 12:00 PM

Fair Lawn

Fair Lawn Recycling Clean-Up Day