Newark man enters guilty plea in vehicular homicide

NEWARK, NJ — Gustavo Palomo, 39, of Newark, pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide for causing the death of 19-year-old Jaleel McCauley, of Newark, according to a Dec. 30 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

In exchange for his guilty plea, entered before presiding Criminal Division Judge Ronald Wigler, Palomo is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison. Under the No Early Release Act, he must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Brian Pollock, who handled the case, on March 17, at approximately 6:39 p.m. McCauley was struck from behind by a white pickup truck while his car was stopped at a red light on the exit ramp of I-280 and First Street in Newark. Palomo, the driver of the white pickup truck that struck McCauley, fled the scene.

McCauley sustained serious injuries. On March 23, he died from his injuries.

Palomo, who was traveling at a high rate of speed and driving under the influence of alcohol, was quickly apprehended, according to Pollock.

“By choosing to drink and drive, this defendant ended the very promising life of an accomplished 19-year-old man. Hopefully, defendant’s long prison sentence will help demonstrate to society that the needless loss of life caused by this truly preventable criminal act will not be tolerated,” Pollock said.