Guilty Plea in Drunken Fatal Crash

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A Marlboro man who spent several hours drinking beer at a Keyport go-go bar and then got behind the wheel of his minivan admitted this week that he caused a crash that killed an Old Bridge man.

Robert A. Pennington, 51, pleaded guilty Monday to death by auto, a second-degree felony. He also pleaded guilty to the motor vehicle offense of driving while intoxicated, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.

Prosecutors want Pennington sentenced to a term of seven years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for April 1. 

Shortly before midnight on Dec. 5, 2014, Pennington was driving south on Route 34 in Holmdel when he reached a slight curve in the road. He failed to properly negotiate the bend and drove into the northbound lane, crashing head-on into a 2008 Hyundai Accent driven by 32-year-old Siva Kovvuri, according to authorities.

Kovvuri, who was wearing his seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Pennington was taken to Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel as a precaution and was later released without injuries, authorities said.

Investigators determined that Pennington had spent the hours leading up to the crash drinking at Fantasies in Keyport. He admitted Monday that he had consumed more than seven beers that night. A blood sample taken after the crash showed that he had a blood alcohol concentration of .258 – more than three times the legal limit in New Jersey.

Pennington is free on bail pending sentence.