Edward L. Orr, 30, of Montauk was arrested on Thursday in connection with an October 2012 hit-and-run that killed John Judge, 61, in Amagansett. Mr. Orr pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Friday, did not post bail and was remanded to the Suffolk County jail in Riverside. He has a court date set for Wednesday, February 13, pending a grand jury indictment, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Judge, who lived just across Main Street from where the accident had occurred, had just left Astro Pizza and his best friend, Tony Lupo, with a plan to return for their usual coffee the next morning on October 23. East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione found Mr. Judge lying on the road near a parked car and called 911 from the restaurant shortly before 8 p.m. Mr. Judge was taken to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, and a search for the vehicle that had struck him and its driver ensued.
East Hampton Town Police said that evidence recovered at the scene of the fatality was linked to a 2004 Jeep Cherokee owned by Mr. Orr and recovered by detectives in New Jersey. “We seized it at an auction yard” some time ago, Town Detective Lieutenant Chris Anderson explained this week. He would not say what type of evidence linked the vehicle to Mr. Judge’s death, but, when asked if paint would be the type of evidence, he said yes.
“The case is under review by the D.A.’s office,” the detective lieutenant said on Friday when asked if additional charges were expected.
Mr. Orr was arrested at his parents’ home in Montauk at 3:25 p.m. on Thursday, police said. At his arraignment on Friday, Justice Catherine A. Cahill set bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond. A public defense attorney asked that bail be lowered, saying that Mr. Orr had “significant ties to the community,” having lived in Montauk his entire life. She and Mr. Orr told Justice Cahill that he was living with his parents, that he had not been employed since October and that before then he had worked for the Road Runner taxi service.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Cronin told the judge that Mr. Orr had confessed to leaving the scene and that he was on probation for a felony grand larceny conviction dating to 2009.
Mr. Stanzione was among those in the courtroom, as were members of Mr. Lupo’s family, who own Astro Pizza. “Johnny was a great guy, and he was a friend of mine,” Mr. Stanzione said when asked to comment, adding that he had “great sympathy for everyone involved.” Mr. Stanzione, stressed that “people are innocent until proven guilty,” at the same time commending the East Hampton Town Police for their work on the case.
Allison, Joseph and Elena Lupo and Alda Stipanov described Mr. Judge as a dear, longtime friend and as a talented “jack of all trades” who had worked across the street at Decorum Antiques. Ms. Stipanov said Mr. Judge “was like a brother” who had been coming to the restaurant for coffee, meals and companionship for 15 years. Allison Lupo, whose husband had been friends with Mr. Judge for decades, said it was unfortunate that some had assumed an illegal immigrant had been to blame for the accident.
“You really don’t know what to say,” she said when asked to comment after Mr. Orr’s arraignment.
“He could have said sorry or something; he can talk,” Joseph Lupo said.
Alone in the back of the courtroom were the defendant’s parents, Edward and Anitta Orr. Mr. Orr said he did not want to comment, except to say that “this is a tragedy for everybody involved.”
“The whole thing is just an unfortunate tragedy,” Ms. Orr said. “He’s not a bad person.”